Writing Exercise: Sense Switch

This exercise helps you to develop your writing skills by observing and describing experiences using the senses. For more information about using the senses in writing, you may like to listen to our podcast on the topic.

Time: 30-40 minutes
Materials: Writing materials, items to sense (e.g. spices, flowers, cloth, music or other sounds, etc. – Something to stimulate each of your available senses.)

  • Find yourself as quiet a spot as possible, without too much going on, so that you can focus your senses without distraction.
  • Select an item for you to experience with your senses. Let’s say you have a cup of hot lemon tea. Experience it with all the senses available: inhale the vapours, taste it, feel what it’s like to stir with a spoon, how the spoon sounds when it clinks against the sides. Let yourself soak in all the information you’re getting about that one object.
  • Set a timer for five minutes and write down as much as you can remember about that experience: what were the smells, tastes, sounds, sights and how did it feel to touch?
  • Set a timer for another five minutes, and this time write down any emotions or memories you experienced while you were sensing the object.
  • For the next ten minutes, describe the experience using opposite senses. For example, what sound does the colour of the tea remind you of? What smell does the sound of the teaspoon remind you of? Do this with as many sense-switches as you can. (Some are much harder than others!)
  • Finally, do some free writing or write a story, poem or memory based from the experience. Include as much sensory description as you can.

Feel free to share your writing in the comments if you wish.

Happy Writing!



by Helen Kenwright

Most of the writers I know have a stack of notebooks that live a quiet life, sitting on a shelf or in the deep darkness of a drawer or chest. Doomed to be unwritten in, simply because they’re ‘too pretty to use’. I confess I have this problem myself. I can’t resist a pretty notebook, and generous friends buy them for me, too. But then I buy a stack of cheap, plain ones to write my drafts in. Workhorses. Ordinary enough that I won’t mind crossings out and bad handwriting and all that messy stuff that happens when you’re crafting something. Continue reading

The Writer’s Cooldown

by Helen Kenwright

So, how was Nanowrimo for you? Or perhaps there’s another big writing project you’ve recently finished?

One of the criticisms sometimes directed at Nanowrimo is that it can cause writer burn-out. Hopefully if you’ve followed the advice in Ekaterina’s blog post last month you won’t have succumbed to total mental and physical exhaustion. But there can be an aftermath to be dealt with, and in this post we give you some advice to help move forward from the experience, however it went, and keep writing into the future. Continue reading

Why Write? Thoughts on writing for fun, health or wealth.

by Helen Kenwright

In this, the first of a series of guest blogs, Writing Tree Tutor Helen Kenwright takes a look at the different reasons people might choose to write, and how to keep motivation going.

When students first come to my classes I ask them what it is about writing that interests them. It’s a question they’ve usually been asked before, and they often find difficult to answer, unless they are hoping to write with a view to publication. It’s a strange phenomenon, when you think about it. Artistic pursuits form the basis of lots of common hobbies: writing, colouring books, salsa dancing, knitting, singing in the shower… but all too often we feel as if we’re daft for doing it, unless we’re really good. And there’s the paradox: like other skills in life, we’re unlikely to get really good unless we do it a lot.

So why bother? Here’s a few ideas. Continue reading