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En Plein Air: Could This Painting Technique Work For Your Writing? | Writer’s Relief

Summertime offers the best opportunities for writing en plein air— a French phrase for “the act of painting outdoors.” Just as artists lug their equipment to meadows, lakes, and parks instead of painting in a studio, Writer’s Relief recommends that you head outdoors to write! You may enjoy some serious benefits by putting this painting technique to work for your writing.

“All pictures painted inside in the studio will never be as good as the things done outside.” — Paul Cézanne

5 Surprising Benefits of Writing En Plein Air

Distractions are eliminated. It’s easy to get sidetracked when you’re writing from home. With family, pets, phone calls, chores, and social media, it’s hard to stay on track and focused. If you’re sitting on a bench by a babbling brook, there may be distractions there as well—but who minds the chirping of birds or a butterfly fluttering by?

Senses become engaged. Being outdoors involves the senses in a way that writing indoors can’t quite match. You may feel the wind on your face or the pebbles under your feet; hear the screech of a hawk or the sound of children laughing in the park; and gaze at the ocean, the trees, or a local fountain. Take these sensations and let them inspire your writing!

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Thoughts are clearer. By taking the time to walk or hike or drive to a quiet space in nature, it’s easier to become immersed in your thoughts, the scenery, and your work. You didn’t come all this way to think about unloading the dishwasher!

Writer’s block is broken. Smart writers know that to reignite their creative fire or combat a serious case of writer’s block, switching up their routine can help. What better change of scenery than a dose of writing, brainstorming, or freewriting en plein air?

Inspiration can strike. While a painter may choose a particular spot in nature in order to paint that scene, writers aren’t limited to writing about what they’re seeing from the dock or the top of a mountain. Inspiration and creative energy can be found by simply being outside your typical writing environment and comfort zone.

“When painting and sketching en plein air, I sink into the landscape, an attuned witness to its mood and beauty.” — Dianne Bersea

Thinking of trying this painting technique in your writing? Then turn off your phone, leave your laptop at home, and pack pens and notepads instead. (Plus you won’t be tempted to check Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram every ten minutes!) It doesn’t matter where you go…as long as you’re outdoors, bathing in natural light, and breathing fresh air. Of course, a nearby park might be better than an outdoor café on a busy city street—but to each his (or her) own!

Writing en plein air doesn’t work for everyone, of course, and you may prefer working from your temperature-controlled, allergy-free office over being sunburned or having your pages blown about by a gusty wind. Here are some tips for creating a writing sanctuary…indoors!


Question: Where is your favorite place to write outdoors?





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