Authorology Lab: Five Senses Challenge

You may have heard of the ice-bucket challenge. We have a different challenge for you (and not nearly as chilly):
The Five Senses Challenge:
Notice and record at least one NEW thing with each of your five senses
during a 24-hour period.
In order to complete the challenge, you will have to intentionally increase your awareness of the input you receive from each of your senses. If you want to take it further, repeat the challenge. You might try for three days in a row. Or, pick one day a week to complete the challenge, and repeat that for six weeks. The idea is to pay attention to all five of your senses and focus on engaging with the world around you. Maintaining that kind of focus is hard to do ALL the time, but pick a few times and really try.
Observing and engaging with our surroundings is an important skill to develop as a writer. Your new ability to focus on your senses will find its way into your writing. As you pay attention to your senses in the real world, you’ll start paying attention to sensory details in your writing, too. You are, in effect, training yourself to use all five senses to add sensory description in your writing.
After completing this challenge, I was struck by how this sensory awareness made me feel more alive and more engaged with the world around me. This is the very thing that happens when we include sensory details in our writing. The writing comes alive. Just as we engage more fully with the world when we thoughtfully use our senses to observe, adding sensory details to our writing gives the reader more ways to engage with the story. A skilled writer can use sensory detail to convey emotions, mood, tension, and a sense of place. As you read your favorite books, pay attention to how the author uses sensory detail.


Take the Five Senses Challenge and notice how it changes your perceptions and your attitudes. It can make you feel inspired, grateful, connected, alive, and just plain happy.

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