Happy to welcome high-performance coach and author Nina Amir to the blog today. She’s got some great techniques for you to try if you ever hit a brainstorming wall, so please read on!
Plot. Scene. Character. Setting. Point of view. Theme. Literary devices. You’ve studied and practiced how to write great fiction, but sometimes that knowledge and skill aren’t enough to help you write your novel.
You still get stuck and don’t know where your story should go next. You still find your Muse takes vacations, leaving you unable to write. You still struggle to pull all the elements together into a story that works and to improve your craft—your writing—at the same time.
That’s when you need to take a different approach…an approach that helps spark ideas, creativity and productivity.
Use Your Mind’s Eye
Your ability to imagine helps you write your novel. But sometimes you need to consciously or deliberately turn on a mental movie. With your mind’s eye, you can find the answers and inspiration you seek.
Athletes, actors, dancers, and entrepreneurs use visualization to help create the results they desire. You can use the power of visualization to support your writing efforts, too.
If you think this is a crazy tactic, consider a swimmer. To finish a race, she must start fast, push past the half-way point and touch the wall before the other swimmers. Her training includes visualizing this scenario. She imagines the shock of the cold water on her body when she dives into the pool, the pain and heaviness in her legs and arms and her heaving and aching chest at the half-way point, and a burst of energy and a positive thought—I can do it!—that allows her to sail past her competitors and win.
The mind can’t tell the difference between what is happening in the simmer’s imaginary world—in her mind—and what is happening in the physical world. As she visualizes swimming the race, her muscles fire just as if she were swimming. And her mind learns to provide positive messages that help her rev up rather than give up emotionally and physically.
Visualization works the same way for writers. It trains you to write.
The following four tools enhance your writing ability by turning away from craft (briefly) and toward the creative power of your mind. They utilize visualization to help solve problems, eliminate self-defeating thoughts, and generate forward movement with your writing work.
- Creative Visualization
Creative visualization is your ability to deliberately imagine yourself writing with ease, your book completed or your story finished. See your desired result. Feel it. Touch it. Smell it!
Imagine yourself writing, answers and ideas coming to you easily and effortlessly, and the final manuscript pages spewing out of your printer. Feel what that would be like. That’s creative visualization.
Your mental images tell your brain to help you write and craft ideas. Your visualizations train it to focus on desired outcomes rather than on self-doubt, worry, or problems. By visualizing the outcome you desire, it easier for you to take action, generate new ideas, and finish your manuscript. You have shown your mind that you can do it, and it believes that to be true.
- Story Visions
Visualizing your story also can help you write. If you find yourself struggling with plot or characters, for instance, visualize your story unfolding. See the whole story or just the challenging section.
Don’t try too hard to direct the story in the way you think it should unfold. Instead, allow your mind to generate new scenarios or plot turns you hadn’t thought of previously. Let your story vision provide new ideas for approaching your novel.
- Deliberately Daydream
When faced with a challenging part of a writing project, most of us focus on finding a solution or answer—something to help us over the rough spot. However, allowing new ideas to enter your brain without force can prove more productive.
Sit back in your chair, put your hands in your lap and close your eyes or stare out the window. Don’t think about your book. Don’t think about anything in particular.
Remember daydreaming in class when you were still in school? That’s the state you want to enter. As your mind wanders, your subconscious mind begins to call up new ideas.
If you struggle with this approach, do something mindless—vacuum, fold laundry, mow the lawn, or take a shower. The best ideas show up if you don’t try to generate them. When your conscious mind is occupied with something menial, the unconscious mind has the chance to bring its ideas and thoughts into awareness.
- Visualize Your Characters
When you get stuck, spend imaginary time with the characters in your novel or in the setting where they exist. Visualizing them so you can experience them. In the process, you bring your characters, settings and scenes to life.
This is a great technique to use when you need to write character profiles. Imagine each character in action. How do they look and behave? What do they say or how do they talk?
Or walk through the town where your characters live. See it through their eyes.
- Mentally Meet Your Characters
Get up close and personal with your characters. Visualize meeting them. In your mind’s eye, enter your protagonist’s office, home, bedroom, or even the scene of a crime. Meet at the coffee shop where she spends time each morning—and buy her coffee, sit down at her table, and have a conversation.
Ask the antagonist what you should know about him. Or inquire about what he thinks he should do next in the scene you find difficult to write.
Because visualization activates your brain differently than the act of writing, it increases your ability to solve problems, get answers, and activate ideas more quickly and effectively. This allows you to turn back to writing craft and finish your novel.
Nina Amir is an eleven-time Amazon bestselling author of 19 titles, including Creative Visualization for Writers, How to Blog a Book and The Author Training Manual. She helps writers make a positive meaningful impact with their words. Her clients have sold 300,000+ copies of their books, landed deals with major publishing houses, and created thriving businesses around their books.
The author of 19 books, she founded National Nonfiction Writing Month and the Nonfiction Writers’ University as well as a proprietary Author Training Program. Six of her books were on Amazon’s Authorship Top 100 list simultaneously. She is one of 300 elite high-performance coaches in the world.
Have your ever tried visualization techniques to either brainstorm the story or work your way past a block? Let us know in the comments. 🙂
Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, a portal to powerful, innovative tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.