Saturday, March 7, 2015

Practice makes perfect: what writers can learn from sketchers

By Lacey Gunter

I have been reading a great book by Barbara Bradley about how to draw people. Like many books on learning and developing art skills, she devotes a section of the book on the importance of taking a sketchbook with you and sketching what you see as you go about your day. You can sketch while you are at the park with your kids, sketch while you are waiting in line to pick your kids up from school,  or wherever and whenever you have a free moment to pull out your sketchpad and jot down a few lines.

She recommends this for multiple reasons; the most important reason being the more you draw the better you get. Another reason is it will give you exposure and experience in drawing a wide variety of people doing various actions in various settings. It will also help you to better observe the world around you and improve your ability to take in both the big picture and the fine details.

She talks about just observing the things around you and drawing whatever peaks your interest, such as a quirky look on someone's face, an intense interaction between two people, the bouncy movement of a child, or the way the wind blows someone's hair. Whatever gets your attention and motivates you to want to capture it in a sketch.

It's a really great idea for improving your drawing skills.  But I was thinking it would also be a really great method to apply to improving one's writing skills. We often talk about keeping notebooks handy for jotting down great ideas whenever they choose to strike. But what if we gave those little notebooks a lot more use by pulling them out whenever we have a spare moment and practicing writing about the things we observe throughout the day. For example, instead of sketching an intense interaction between two people, you could write a short passage describing what you are seeing or the emotions you are observing or the actions or conversation.  Just like with the sketching idea, write about whatever catches your attention and try to put it into words so that your capture that moment or scene.

The great thing about this idea is that it gives you tons of practice on writing about a wide variety of characters, interactions and settings, without requiring a great deal of creative thought or inspiration. Then, when those fleeting moments of creative genius do happen to strike, you will already have a wealth of experience to pull from on how to write about the characters, interactions and settings you create in your mind.


  1. So important to remember! I have been known to eavesdrop on interesting conversations and jot them down later...shh, don’t tell. ;-)



Related Posts with Thumbnails