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!