Writing Life: Present Beauty

A fellow poet once said to me that he admired another poet friend of ours, because he genuinely lived his life, and looked at life, through the eyes of a poet. Which means, he stayed in the present. Writing (and other art forms) focuses us in on the present moment.

As human beings out in the world, though, we are often inside of our heads, fretting about the past or future, rather than where we are right in the moment. I’ve been in the practice lately of trying to catch myself when I am not present, when my thoughts have carried me elsewhere. I stop and look around the room or bus or sidewalk at the other people to see where they are. I note what’s around me. The colours and shadows, the expressions and tones, the way someone moves, or how they’ve dressed. I notice what the birds are doing. And what kids are up to.

Sometimes we don’t have 2 hours, or even 1 hour, to write in a day. But we can still create in these fleeting moments. We can still make stories up, collect images, notice shapes and sounds and conversations. We can use all the time we are not writing as “research.”

Every time I walk through the cemetery, I notice the tree that looks like a wolf. Some day, that tree is going to end up in a story or poem of mine.

So, while standing in line at Starbucks, stop drafting that email in your head and look around you. There’s a little girl licking the whipped cream out of a mug while her mother yells into her cell phone. Someone is painting christmas stockings on the window and it’s not even Thanskgiving. The elderly lady in line speaks with an Eastern European accent and has a rebellious streak of pink in her hair.

All of these are useful beautiful moments. All of these make life’s background fuller and richer. They are life images you can glean from as an observer and recorder of life.

My WEEKEND WORKOUT this Friday will be about using these present images in a written piece. So, notice as much as possible this week. Not only will it keep you out of your head and in the present moment, it will be a creative database for later use.


  1. 4amWriter
    Nov 13, 2013

    I need to slow down with all of my tasks and responsibilities. Knowing that I can find a writing opportunity if I take some time to live in the moment is a wonderful incentive!

    • Danika Dinsmore
      Nov 15, 2013

      I’ve been really hard on myself lately for not finding more time to write. It’s been a good exercise for me to simply live/look at the world as a writer.

  2. Kim Aippersbach
    Nov 14, 2013

    So true! I go around most of the time lost in a fog. I used to notice things more. When did the world become something I try to avoid or escape?

    • Danika Dinsmore
      Nov 15, 2013

      Maybe when life gets busy or complicated we just go there. hanging out with children is always a good reminder because they are so in the moment.

  3. Kourtney Heintz
    Nov 16, 2013

    Great post! There is inspiration everywhere, if we stop and stay in the moment long enough to notice it. I actively disconnect from my phone and internet for at least 2-4 hours each day.

    • Danika Dinsmore
      Dec 3, 2013

      I think that’s wise. When I’m on transit I take a look around and see 90% of the people hooked into some kind of electronic device. It makes me a bit sad that people stay so disconnected from each other. I’m guilty, too, but when I realize it, I sometimes just watch others or look out the window, noticing what I notice inside and outside my own body.

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