Leave a Comment

How to Write Crisp, Evocative Descriptions: Move to Inspire the Muse (9)

When we think of paying attention,
we usually think of sitting still, of clearing our eyes and ears of distractions
and concentrating on the object or scene before us.
But sometimes the best way to be still – to still your mind
and focus on your subjects – is to get moving.

-Rebecca McClanahan

McClanahan points to the practice of Claude Monet, whose studio was a boat floating down a river. Monet painted the objects that floated by, which was a challenge because the objects were moving. She explains: “Monet’s artistic vision, coupled with high emotional energy and a seemingly unquenchable passion for light, led him to create works that seemed to describe the most fleeting and fluid moments in nature.”

McCalahan asks writers to consider incorporating some form of movement or activity into their writing life: “Concentrating on your body may free your mind to discover its own path.”  Now I understand why the words seem to flow more effortlessly after I do Qi Gong, Tai Chi or Yoga before journaling. McClanahan suggests:  “Before you write, take a long walk, swim, lift weights, jog, dance or take a spin on your bike. You may find that the physical rhythms of the activity suggest the rhythms of sentence or poetry lines.”

For those writers who hate exercise, the author suggests they follow Monet’s example and write on a boat – admittedly, that’s hard to do. Other options include riding a motorcycle, or taking a long train ride. How about skating, biking or swimming?

Performing some form of exercise as part of a writing regimen is good not only for the writer’s eye, but for the body as well. Sitting and writing for a couple of hours a day can cause muscles to stiffen and joints could become painful over time, which can be hindrances to a good writing life.

“If description is the flowering, it is also the root and stem of effective writing,” wrote Rebecca McClanahan in her book, Word Painting, A Guide to Writing More Descriptively. I’m reading this book because I meet my Waterloo every time I have to describe something in writing. I honestly feel this makes my writing flowerless. This is such a good book and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to write well. I’ll be using this blog to take notes as I read through this book, so this post is part of a series. I hope you’ll learn along with me.


photo credit: Monet: Water Lilies via photopin (license)


Thank you for taking the time to comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s