Write for You: Take Another Look

By Nancy Casey

Choose an interesting place in your house to write about.  Walk around in that place and take a look at all the things that make it interesting.

Everything you can see is interesting in and of itself. A melted candle. The dent in the couch cushion.  A book called I’ll Sell You a Dog. The stapler.

Some things are interesting because of what we know about them.  The clock that hung on the wall in my mother’s house.  The only boots that don’t leak.  The doormat from Nevada.  The cat food that is almost gone.

A whole lot of things become more interesting because of where they happen to be, or what they have landed next to.  The shoe on the desk.  The spider in the shower.  The bright yellow napkin on the doorstep. A ten-penny nail in the coffee cup.

Action is always more interesting than no-action. Water dripping outside the window. Birds.  Wind. The computer fan. The snoring dog. All the sounds.

After you’ve taken in what’s interesting about that place in your house, go somewhere you can’t see what you’ve been looking at and sit down with your writing materials. Describe the interesting things that you saw.

After you have finished writing, go back and wander around the spot you were writing about.  Notice what you forgot to put in your description.  After you’ve taken a good look, go back to your writing and describe more things.

Get up and take a third look. What more can you write down about this particular spot in the world?  Has anything changed?  Could anything change?  Has anything become more interesting, or less so?

Keep alternating between looking and writing until there is nothing more to say.  Is that possible?  How can you be sure you can’t say anything new? Here is an example of what someone could write.

When you have finished with this writing, put the date on the page and give it a title.  Then think about a place you could write about next time.

This is fun to do in your house because it helps you appreciate how rich your surroundings are how unique they are to you.  In a day or two, you can visit the same spot in your house and write about what has and hasn’t changed.  You can do that a month from now, too.

You don’t have to limit yourself to the inside of your house.  You can write about a new place that you visit, or describe a place you see every day in your usual routine.  All you need is something to look at and a place nearby where you can write down what you have seen.

An art gallery, for example, is a fun place to do this exercise.  Interesting rooms are not hard to find, and usually there are places to sit.  Libraries are like that, too.  You could do the writing in a café or park and do the “looking” on a walk around the block.

If you do this exercise a half-dozen times, you will be certain of at least one thing: the more you look, the more interesting things get.


Nancy Casey is a writer and teacher who has lived in rural Latah County for many years.  You can see more of her work here.

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