This exercise gets you to write from direct observation, presencing your immediate surroundings.
The result of delving into this kind of writing is that it gets you to deeply and vividly spread your awareness into the space around you. It’s an awesome workout for your descriptive ability and can also feel like pure indulgence for your visceral sensory engagement.
Put plainly, it feels good to be aware.
Fundamentally, the writing exercise is about the art of description.
You have complete freedom as to how you would like to approach this exercise. You can use it as an opportunity to explore your emotional environment just as much as you try it as a means to stick with physical specifics.
In your writing, you can choose to be clinical and coldly factual or as expansively poetic as you fancy.
No matter where you are, you have what you need to begin this exercise.
You are there in the immediate present and you have surroundings. You have a physical body and an energetic state and there are physical things in your vicinity. These are your subjects to write about for the next twenty minutes.
That sounds like a lot of work!
Writers are weird. We like to put things into words. We like to describe things, to coin terms, to find the right phrases. It is uniquely satisfying to arrive at a particularly good analogy for something, whether an experience, a profound philosophical truth, or the way a doorknob looks.
What is the point of this?
Try it out and then you’ll see!
It doesn’t need to feel like you’re doing any heavy lifting when you write descriptions of things — in fact, if it feels that way, you’re… doing it… wrong… but it’s OK if you are doing it wrong as long as you have a mind to finding your way to enjoy it to enter the project from a different angle — to be playful and discover new things. To get it all wrong and make a mess.
As you write, if you feel stuck, widen your perspective. What is the greater context?
Broaden your context in purely physical sense by broadening the area you describe.
You’re sitting in a chair at a table in the room of a diner next to a street in a neighborhood in a city in a region in a province in a country in the world in the solar system.
You get the idea.
Or broaden your context by extending into the past or future.
Or go deep with something else that catches your interest. Another person in the cafe. A squeaking door. An apple on a countertop.
This is an exercise that can easily be woven into a freewriting marathon or turned to whenever you want a warmup. It is a great way of coming up with descriptions of a setting and for you as a writer it can be an awesome way of journaling or writing about a place so that you etch it in your memory.