3 Ways Curiosity is Your Best Friend

July 2 by

3 Ways Curiosity is Your Best Friend

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother cold ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity.” 

Not long ago, as I was cleaning out a room at my farm house, I came across an old picture of one of my great, great relatives.  Not sure if she was an aunt or a grandmother, but the picture dates back to the 1800’s.  It was in a frame that looked to be of about the same era, but the frame was coming apart, and not actually repairable.  I decided to take the picture out and discard the frame. I pulled the outer backing off, and it came apart as I did.  Then I started to peel back an old piece of paper from the back of the photo.  Rather than it just being a piece of paper, I discovered it was another picture!  A charcoal drawing of a man.  The paper felt like it would crumble in my hands!  Upon closer inspection, I saw that the only color in the drawing was the man’s eyes.  They were blue.

It was rather creepy, yet fascinating.  There was no artist name on the drawing, no notation on the back to say who this man was.  So, I’ve started on a quest to try to find out who he might be.

How does this story figure into why curiosity is a writer’s best friend?  Well…

Number 1:

By its very definition, “a desire to know,” curiosity creates questions.  Yes, these picture happen to be my family, but I would be asking just as many questions if I had found the drawing behind a picture bought at a yard sale, or estate sale.  I might have had the ability to actually search out who the person is like I have with the man potentially being a family member, but the questions of who it was, and why it was hidden would have still surfaced.  Curiosity propels us into the intrigue.  It demands that we at least try to solve the puzzle of who that person might be.  It is the life blood of a figuring out how to write a mystery, or even just flesh out a small intrigue, because it helps us know what questions our characters might ask if faced with a similar situation.

Number 2:

Curiosity leads us down paths we might not have otherwise trekked. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “Curiosity killed the cat.”  Cats are notorious for sticking their paws into holes they can’t actually see into.  They inquisitive nature leads them to learn how to open doors they aren’t supposed to, or go into dark places where danger might lurk, just because.  This catch phrase has been used over the years to squelch curiosity, to stop us from wanting to go down that different path, to walk into that dark alley.  The fact that the eyes were the only color in the charcoal drawing seemed strange to me.  Especially for the time because colored pencils as an art medium didn’t come along until the 1920’s.  So, now, I want to know was that a common practice in the 1800’s or early 1900’s for charcoal artisans.  I wouldn’t have ever thought to look into that before finding this picture.  I’m allowing my curiosity to lead me down a path I would not have gone down before.  So, in this sense, curiosity pushes us to research facts and information when piqued.

Number 3:

Mundane things become fascinating when we bring our curiosity out to play. It doesn’t have to be something as odd as finding a hidden charcoal drawing with blue eyes.  It can be as simple as applying curiosity to the everyday things in life.  The things we take for granted.  Like, our refrigerator.  We don’t get curious about how it works, we just know it does.  But, if we bring our curiosity to it, then we start to wonder, how long have refrigerators been around?  Who invented it and why? How do they keep things cold?  How does it keep somethings frozen?  What kinds of things would my character keep in a refrigerator? How might it figure into a rigged explosion?  See how those transitions came, just by allowing myself to be curious about a refrigerator?  It can be the simplest, most mundane thing in a story that becomes a pivotal point, or object that moves the story forward.

How has curiosity been your best friend?

Cathy Lynn

About Cathy Lynn

Cathy Lynn is an artist, writer, executive trainer, and the co-owner of Inkwell Basics. She has published two coloring books, Conscious Coloring and Carnal Coloring. She's currently working on a novel, and turning her farm into an event venue. She previously blogged at 3 Shared Paths, a personal growth blog that was read worldwide, and has been blogging for over 10 years. She lives somewhere between the city and the country with her three cats, Sebastian, Miss Kitty, and Ella.

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