I found a great quote in On Writing Horror, in a piece by Michael Marano, although he makes clear that he got the basic idea from another writer. The quote is: "...to read a passage is to fly over it, while writing it out is to walk the same path that the writer did." Marano suggests finding passages from writers that you find particularly effective in creating horror and "type" those out yourself so as to put yourself in that writer's shoes. It wouldn't have to be horror, of course. You could retype a particularly telling bit of description, or an adept bit of characterization. I think I'm going to give this a try and see what happens. Has anyone done this?
Here's my first example, from Matthiessen's Snow Leopard:
"The old man has been ravened from within. That blind and greedy stare of his, that caved-in look, and the mouth working, reveal who now inhabits him, who now stares out. I nod to Death in passing, aware of the sound of my own feet upon my path. The ancient is lost in a shadow world, and gives no sign."
OK, a couple of quick points. For this exercise I don't think you need to worry about such things as getting the dash in "caved-in." Maybe it is even informative if you "don't" get it perfectly right but then compare your version to the other author's. I also automatically feel a push to rewrite it, to make it my own, not because I see problems with it, but just because, beautiful as it is, it's not how "I" would say it. And yet, I don't think I could improve on it.