The Observation Deck


Almost every day for the past nine years I have had a different writer in my car. As a literary escort, my job has been to make sure that touring authors arrive at their media appearances well fed and on time. Riding around San Francisco, various novelists, journalists, self-help gurus and children's book authors have shared the methods they've used to find inspiration, develop self discipline and hone their craft.

Over time I began writing down what I was hearing and made up a set of 3X5 cards to jump start my own creativity. When I was feeling stuck I'd pull card and phrase like "Write a Letter" or "Ask A Question" would tell me what to do. The spontaneity of pulling cards freed me from having to be too self- directive and my writing began to flow. It was as if I had a team of great writers teaching me new techniques and encouraging me to keep improving.

The Observation Deck is designed to help you through every stage of the creative process by combining your own intuition with the wisdom of other successful writers. This book does not tell you how you must work; it gives you the opportunity to experiment with different ways of working and it relieves you of the anxiety of having to constantly decide what to do next.

The deck can help you through one piece of writing - from conception through polished work - or it can serve as a self- directed writing course in which you create a number of short peices.

You can work your way through the deck systematically or shuffle after each use and allow random chance to determine your next move. Even if you pull the same card many times, its impact will always be different. For variety, you can combine several cards and create a new suggestion.

Sometimes you will pick a card and immediately know what you need to do. Other times you may go directly to the book to find help in a specific area. If you pull a card that seems totally inappropriate, trust that you pulled the card for a reason and allow yourself to experiment. Remember, the cards are not meant to change the way you write but to provide new colors for your writing pallette.

Keep all the writing you do for The Observation Deck in one place. This will provide a record of your progress and may prove a source of valuable material for future projects.

Share the deck with a friend or two. Create a support group for working the cards together. The many mornings I spent with Susan Page ( If I'm So Wonderful Why Am I Still Single?), doing exercises and listening to each others work, were instrumental in helping me become a published author. You can e-mail me at and we'll help you connect with other writers in your area.

Please write to share your successes. Let me know which techniques proved most helpful and why. If you come up with new ways to use the cards we'll pass them on to other writers.

The Observation Deck is not just a tool for writing, it's a guide for living more creatively. Not only will it help you finish the piece you've been meaning to write and give your thoughts powerful expression, it will allow you to experience the world with greater depth. I hope that you get great pleasure from working with the deck and that your writing becomes a source of strength, insight and inspiration.

The Observation Deck | Author Naomi Epel | Writers Dreaming

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