THINK for a moment about the sense of touch (the ability to feel temperature, pressure, vibration, and texture) and how much it affects our lives. Now ask yourself, how much of your journal or memoir writing includes the wonderful details this sense offers us?
If you’re like me, we don’t always include a lot of sensory detail in our journaling. Yet, what is a sunny day without the heat of the sun against our skin and the relief of the shade? A breeze without the slight pressure of movement that riffles the hairs on our arms and cools the skin? Velvet without that soft, silky, creamy, oh-so-strokable texture that seems to be described only with the word velvety?
If we are to record the events of our lives and write about them, we need to include this sense in all its beauty and sometimes inconvenience. I know that I, for one, often struggle with a lack of awareness of touch and a deficient vocabulary to adequately describe how something feels. So I’ve devised a few short exercises to assist the development of both of these skills.
Touch Awareness Exercises
- For 10-15 minutes, as you go about your usual routine, notice the textures of objects you touch or brush against. Notice the feel of any breeze, the pressure of the clothing against your skin. How it feels to touch someone else. While you are doing so, try to find words to describe the different sensations.
- Take a walk in a park or in your garden. Touch plants, leaves, and flowers as you walk and notice how they feel. Are they cool or warm to the touch? Smooth or prickly? Describe them to yourself.
After either of the touch awareness exercises, spend 10 minutes writing about it in your journal. If any of the touch sensations bring up memories, write about those memories.
Expanding Your Sensory Vocabulary
- Select a few words from your descriptions and look them up in your thesaurus. Are there synonyms that more accurately describe how that object/sensation felt? For example, for the word smooth, you might use unwrinkled, glassy, silky, or polished.
- Rewrite one of your passages, expanding the descriptions and the vocabulary.
Now, wasn’t that fun? For additional articles and prompts about using sensory details in journaling, view the Telling Your Stories through Sensory Details category and my post on WomensMemoirs.com titled Using Your Senses to Inspire Creative Journal writing.
Image Credit: Swamibu