How Sketching Improves Your Writing

Drawing is not what one sees but what one can make others see Edgar Degas

One of the great difficulties of storytelling is to visualise a place thoroughly, and the movement of people within it.

Storytellers can get stuck in a frozen moment, with the story going nowhere. Drawing, which in its finished state is static, can paradoxically help to create movement – but it is not the finished drawing that matters, it is the process.

Laura C is working on a memoir, built around her father’s cookery books.

Working with Laura yesterday, we started with an empty floor plan of the house she is writing about. Sketching together online1 (because we are on different continents) we gradually embellished the floor plan.

Here’s how it gradually became more detailed (click pictures and scroll):

Over 30 minutes, Laura remembered all kinds of things that had happened in her childhood home and I sketched while we talked (Laura sketched too). I also wrote down a few of the phrases she used.

These pictures show some of the specifics:

You can watch the whole thing, here. It’s worth listening, to get a sense of the process, as much as the “finished” image.

I highly recommend that you do this exercise. It works much better if you draw with someone else, because a lot of the benefit comes from your conversation.

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1 Sketching together online. We used a website called If you’d like to book a 30 minute session with me, you can, below.

Click here to choose a 30-minute slot


See also
Wakes Up, Heart Racing