Sensory Week: Touch

May 13, 2014  Prompt #12



Our sense of touch is so important that when we want to establish if something is real, we reach out and try to touch it. What does touch tell us?  Hot. Cold. Hard. Soft. Wet. Dry. Smooth. Sharp. Rough. Ridged. Sticky. As writers, where do we go from there?



  1. For today’s exercise, find an item to use as your “touchstone.” It might be an actual stone, or a tree trunk, a nail file, a wool sweater, a rough wash cloth, a ridged drinking class, or an old table.
  2. Touch the object with your fingers. Wrap your hand around it or bring it to your cheek.
  3. For 5 minutes, write not only about how the object feels (for instance, rough, dry and splintery) but also how the object makes you feel emotionally. Does a smooth table feel welcoming? Does a studded belt make you feel bold and exuberant?
  4. For the second step, associate the object with another object, perhaps one from your past. Bumpy ridges on a vase might remind you of hair curlers you wore as a teenager (or your aunt wore, tucked under a scarf.) The rough of a nail file might conjure up an unshaven face, the softness of a silk shirt might remind you of a long line of silk scarfs that a magician drew from a black top hat.

How This Prompt Can Strengthen Your Writing

  • Helps build sensory details in your work.
  • Gives you practice adding complexity through associations that link time and space.

Further Writing

  • Work in a simile. (The rock is smooth as the water that shaped it.  The feather is as insubstantial as this morning’s dream.
  • Choose a second item and write about it.
  • Write about a familiar item, then an unfamiliar one. How do these experiences differ?

Variations for Writing Groups

  1. Each member brings in an object in a small paper bag.
  2. Without looking into the bag, each member feels inside, jots down what they feel and tries to guess what it is. (Curved, sticky, slightly prickly — pinecone!) From there, follow Step 4 above. Write for 15 more minutes.

Preparation for Friday

Remember to find a fruit that you like or are willing to taste.

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