Writing is my main creative outlet. One reason I enjoy it is that it helps me see things in a different way. I notice the man who carries a packet of peanut butter crackers, a checkbook and a plastic fork in his shirt pocket. He's prepared for anything. My attention is drawn to the clothespins bobbing and pulling on the line as the shirts try to escape into the wind. I'm awakened at night by the puddle of moonlight spilling in through the window, like so much liquid mercury.
Lately, I've been dabbling with photography. I have a lot to learn, but trying to capture an image in the view finder has also taught me to see. What do I want to focus on? How does the background influence the subject? How can I make it more interesting? What about a photo makes me want to linger there a moment?
I don't draw well at all, but a few years ago I picked up the book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. That book is full of fascinating research about how we see things and how we are creative. There are also exercises to teach you how to draw what you see. First, you have to learn to see. Lines, angles, shapes and their relationship to each other.
Both drawing and photography have helped me see things better for writing. Dabbling in these pasttimes illuminates the details in life and that spills into my writing. What creative pursuits have you tried and how has it affected your main creative outlet?