‘Whatever the weather now, go and stand outside for ten or fifteen minutes, or go for a short walk. When you come back indoors, write a short paragraph in which you attempt to capture something of your impressions. Draw on all your senses. And keep it economical.’

Exercise Seven of Andrew Cowan’s ‘The Art of Writing Fiction’ continues the trend of the chapter by proposing another repeatable observational exercise to be recorded in one of the seemingly infinite journals one will own. For this exercise, it is suggested that you go record your short impressions of the weather on each day to create a wealth of easily transferable, and realistic, descriptions.

Taking this exercise one step further, I have also endeavoured to record and include varying different times for this exercise, as the beauty of a summer’s afternoon may contrast with the torment of a sweat-filled sleep at night.

Below are my first four records:

 

Exercise Seven: Weather Reports

Monday, 18th June 2018, 4pm:

In a jeans, no socks, two shirts, the wind bites. The air itself is neither cold nor warm when still. The breeze rustles the trees in ten-second bursts. The birds chirp in time. Washing lines wave. The sky is overcast with clouds of silver. Out in the distance splashes of blue break through.

Tuesday, 19th June 2018, 10:30am:

The air is a still chill again today but without the wind. The kid of weather which a jacket nullifies with ease. The sun can be felt whilst squinting at clouds, but the sky is once more overcast. In a minute the sun will break through before it is lost again.

Wednesday, 20th June 2018, 7:30am:

A sweltering night, one where opening the window lets more heat in than out. A cold, uncomfortable sweat during sleep gives way to a beautifully sunny morning that is soon smothered by cloud as I drive east. Predicted peak temperature of 21 degrees.

Thursday, 21st June 2018, 4:31pm:

The sun is out in force today, causing eyes to readjust. Clouds are sporadically interspersed among a blue sky. They are white to my right, whilst a gray omen approaches from the left. The wind is still, but when it does come it snaps you from the reverie of the sun.

 

Takeaways

An enjoyable exercise, which, crucially, doesn’t take up too much time but which I can picture having various applications whilst I write. Looking at my observations, there is a valid criticism to be made that the record is failing to be economical; that they’re all very ‘writerly’. But as Allen Ginsberg said, ‘first thought, best thought’.

 

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