How to be Attentive

How to be Attentive

This is how to be a writer without actually doing any writing. Well, obviously you do have to write to be a writer, but writing is about more than writing. It involves a gear shift in the brain. You have to look at the world in a different way.

You have to be attentive. Think of Sherlock Holmes and the wonderful trick he had of working out a man's profession from the mud on his trouser legs and the sort of boots he wore. This is what writers need to do: they need to look at the world, and be curious about the meaning behind what they see. I'm sitting writing this in a café, and I've just seen a man glance at his watch, fold his newspaper and then walk off briskly. Is he late for an appointment? Who is he going to meet? He has left an empty cup and a crumpled napkin. He was wearing a striped golf shirt and had crinkly, soft brown hair. The newspaper was a tabloid, but I didn't have a chance to see which. I wonder what sort of coffee it was?

Being attentive means asking questions. Being a writer is asking questions and trying to answer them. That is what people want from books - for questions to be asked and questions answered.
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