Just read an interesting article about new research in dreaming: who remembers their dreams, who doesn't, and how to improve your recall (thanks for the link, Lucy Snyder). I'd heard that waking naturally can improve recall, and at one time I kept a dream journal. I liked the journal because it gave me ideas for stories as well as helping me remember dreams.
But I'd never heard of the first exercise the article lists: "The Window Treatment". This strikes me as a great one for creating more vivid writing as well:
"For five minutes, watch whatever scenes unfold outside of a window. Observe everything: colors, objects, buildings, cards, people, animals, and movements. Everything from what someone looks like to the colors
of their shoes to the speed that they are walking. If there are
animals, pay attention to whether they are butterflies or moths, for
example, or the specific breed of a dog. If a car is driving down the
street, what kind of car is it? Are there any embellishments on it? The
goal is to detail, in your head, exactly what you’re seeing — do not
Once you’ve done this, write everything down in a notebook. By experiencing the events and recounting them, you’re training your brain to remember details in real life, and eventually your dreams, too."
Since specifics are what make writing real, this is a great tool for learning how to notice and visualize. I'm going to have to give it a try.