5 Visualization Techniques to Help Your Writing Craft

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!

blue-crop-4Plot. 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.

  1. 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!

writing-outsideImagine 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. Visualize Your Characters

faceWhen 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.

  1. 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.

creative-visualization-for-writers-cover-small-399Nina 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. 🙂

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About ANGELA ACKERMAN

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, an online library packed with powerful tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
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[…] Sara Letourneau tells us when it’s okay to listen to you inner editor, and Angela Ackerman lists 5 visualization techniques to help your writing craft. […]

Kayelle Allen
3 years ago

With my last book, a writer friend (Houston Havens) interviewed my main character. She had a list of questions to ask, and I answered as him, using free association and what I knew about him already. He’d been the villain in previous stories, and I was writing his origin story to get to know him. He completely surprised me with his answers. I think we carry within us the seeds of our characters and perhaps much more. When we allow that to come forth without judgment or preconceived notions, how much more depth we convey!

Houston Havens
3 years ago
Reply to  Kayelle Allen

Aah thank you for the mention hon – I think most authors find many different methods to uncover their characters, what works for one won’t work for the other – the characters have strange ways they use to reach us authors for sure! 😉

hugs and kisses
Houston

caroline gerardo
3 years ago

I use a white board with story and add images, flat objects and it changes as the novel develops. Using visualization is a great idea

Nina Amir
3 years ago

I love white boards! Visualizing the novel fully developed might save you time, though. That said, most novels do “develop” as you write.

Traci Kenworth
3 years ago

Wonderful post!!

Botanist
3 years ago

This is so darned spooky, but I’m happy to hear someone else suggesting things along these lines. I haven’t tried visualizing the writing as such, but visualizing the story, the characters, and most especially (for me, anyway) the setting have helped me immensely through the first draft of a new novel. I wrote a few blog posts on this earlier this year and am preparing a talk along similar lines for my local library.

Nina Amir
3 years ago
Reply to  Botanist

Awesome, Botanist! I’m sure the talk will be well received. Feel free to mention my book!

Jennifer Lane
3 years ago

As a swimmer and writer, I truly appreciate this excellent post!

Nina Amir
3 years ago
Reply to  Jennifer Lane

Glad you found it useful, Jennifer…and I’m sure you relate!

Carol Malone
3 years ago

My book coach teaches NLP techniques for getting to know our characters and I do an interview of the major chararcters in my book by asking them what they want and then asking, “What will having that do for you?” until I believe I’ve gone way deep into their real subconscious needs. Yours is a great tool to add to that. Thank you.

Nina Amir
3 years ago
Reply to  Carol Malone

I love this and the use of NLP! Thanks for sharing, Carol.

Max West
3 years ago

I never thought of these strategies yet they look so obvious. Thanks for sharing; I plan to use these with my next scripts!

Nina Amir
3 years ago
Reply to  Max West

Awesome! Let me know how they work for you!

:Donna
3 years ago

Nina, I’ve always been a “visual” writer and actually listing and describing these techniques is such a great tool for writers! 😀

Nina Amir
3 years ago
Reply to  :Donna

I’m gad, Donna. I think we wordsmiths just need to remember there is another visual way to approach our work.

LD Masterson
3 years ago

Interesting. I use visualization with my characters and sometimes my plot but I’ve never tried visualizing myself finishing a book. Something I’ll have to try. Thank you.

Nina Amir
3 years ago
Reply to  LD Masterson

It’s a great way to get to that finish line, LD. I use visualization in all my endeavors–writing work, personal goals, etc.

Roland Clarke
3 years ago

I’m not sure that it’s quite visualization, but many of my best ideas come through dreams. Before I go to sleep, I run through the next day’s scene and by morning I can see what I need to write. Daydreaming sounds good.

Nina Amir
3 years ago
Reply to  Roland Clarke

Dreams are your subconscious bringing you ideas and solving problems while you sleep. It’s great that you are aware of your dreams, Roland.

Rayne Hall
3 years ago

I always mean to visualise my desired outcomes. Sometimes I even do it. But I need a kick in the butt to do it more regularly! Does anyone else have this ‘I should visualise and one day I will’ syndrome?

Nina Amir
3 years ago
Reply to  Rayne Hall

A lot of people, Rayne. Put it on your to do list or make it a morning practice.

Sherry
Sherry
3 years ago

That is an awesome post!! Very helpful. I have tried visualizing parts of my story sometimes, either to better write a scene or to figure out what should come next. I’m going to have to try some of the other techniques now! I’ve also visited my characters in my mind… and then I wrote myself into the story, which turned out rather interesting, but it was fun.

Jay Hicks
Jay Hicks
3 years ago
Reply to  Sherry

That’s a neat idea to write yourself into the story – it’s like a fresh take on vanity publishing – warts and all!

Nina Amir
3 years ago
Reply to  Sherry

Let me know how the visualizations work for you, Sherry. I’m interested to hear if they add value to your work.