Do something you don’t usually do or go somewhere you don’t usually go. Go rock climbing, visit a goat farm, float in a sensory deprivation tank, take a belly dancing class. Shake up your normal routine. While you’re having the experience, pay attention to everything–what do things look like, what do they smell and sound like, what terminology do people use, what kind of people are there too, what does it feel like to be doing this activity or be in this environment? You’re gathering data.
Pretty quickly after the experience is complete, give yourself some time to write notes about it. It may not turn into a “piece” of writing for a while, but you don’t want to lose your immediate impressions. Then, see where it goes. You may be writing fiction and find out that a character has had this same experience–maybe she or he felt different about it than you did. An image or a word may find its way into a poem. You may end up writing an essay or memoir piece about it.
But the experience will stay in your memory bank, and you’ll always be able to draw on it.
Biography of Terry Wolverton: Terry Wolverton is the author of seven books, most recently a novel, The Labrys Reunion. She is founder of and instructor at Writers At Work. www.terrywolverton.xbuild.com