Stepping out to step up your writing skills


I stepped out from behind my desk this past weekend. Yes, I did it. I actually parted ways with my laptop and set out to enjoy, well, the real world.

Mission San Jose (Kerri S. Mabee)

Mission San Jose (Kerri S. Mabee)

The first place I visited was a bookstore. Crazy, I know. Crazy that it’s been so long since I’ve strolled the aisles of a real-life, brick-and-mortar bookstore. And crazier still that I would even consider this a novel undertaking.

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But, the spirit moved me and there I was–surrounded by books everywhere. Fiction. Non-fiction. Classics and Self Help. Because I read so much online, I nearly forgot how much I love the tactile experience of holding a book, cracking its spine, inhaling its inner smells and secrets, weighing its heft in my hands and spinning the pages with my fingertips.

Not only did I delight in the relaxed, easy vibe of browsing, but I was amazed at some of the newer titles that I hadn’t come across on the web. How had I missed them? And perhaps the better question — what if I’d never found them?

The second place I visited was one of California’s historic missions in San Jose. The old church has found its way into my current novel and when the opportunity arose for me to actually visit the site, I decided to jump on it.

And it’s a good thing I did.

There were so many teeny, tiny details I was able to pick up from that trip that I may have skipped over in my breezy web searches.

While I cannot divulge the nature of how this beautiful building will feature in my work –it’s a secret! — I can tell you that walking down the broad aisle towards the back of the church pictured in this photo was especially poignant and necessary for my writing of a particular scene.

Our imaginations work miracles, to be sure. It’s what we do as writers. But, if you can and when you are able, it’s important to step out and experience  — hear, feel, touch, taste and smell — those things that you intend to write about.

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Doing so may offer a new perspective or even correct an errant direction for more authentic storytelling.

This weekend was a reminder for me to resist the lure of the internet. It can take you places, certainly. But its blinding speed and convenience can lull you into place of bland complacency, if you’re not careful.

When you have the chance — get up and go!

What is your writing style — quietly private? Or out and about? Or maybe a little bit of both? Share with me in the comments section below.


Kerri S. Mabee is managing editor at and founder of Breeze Media & Communications. Learn more about her at





Kerri S. Mabee

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