Monday, December 6, 2010
One of the early American proponents of this technique is Wallace Wattles (1860–1911), who wrote The Science of Getting Rich. His philosophy is rooted in some of the beliefs of the Hindu religion. Since then many success and self-improvement movements and books have continued in this similar school of thinking. In the 1970s there were many new religious movements that embraced these thoughts.
I am not here today to advocate any of the religious connections to visualization, but to approach the topic from a more logical viewpoint related to writing. Although before proceeding I will say that in my own life there are things that I have visualized with a strong focus and they have come to pass. This has been sometimes with good results and sometimes bad. It is an illustration of be careful what you wish for because you might get it, but that's another topic for another time. The real point that I'd like to make though is that the act of creative visualization usually has its results through logical explanations. I'm not saying there can't be supernatural consequences to creatively visualizing something, but let me return to this aspect on my post tomorrow.
Today let's look at the act of vividly visualizing as a part of the creative process of writing. When I am reading something I try to picture what I'm reading. This may be one reason that I often have a difficult time reading something that deals with concepts or things that are more related to thinking than seeing, or that is thinking in the sense of reasoning and contemplation. This is me, and may be some you, and there are probably some complex reasons for this and I certainly wouldn't want to delve into those reasons here. The bottom line is that I do better reading a story and story is my current topic.
When I am writing, I am attempting to create a world, characters, and a series of events that the reader can become a part of. In order to do this most effectively I see it as imperative that all of these things become real to me. This must be done through vivid visualization.
Some writers take a very organized and detailed approach in creating outlines, character sketches, and other recorded details about aspects of the story with which they are dealing. This is probably the most sensible approach. My approach is much more internalized in my imagination.
When I begin a story I start with a particular component which is usually focused on plot, character, or setting. I start by thinking about it and organizing the basics in my mind. Sometimes I will write down a few notes, but mostly I essentially start daydreaming or going through a process of visualization.
I will picture the characters and imagine as much as I can to make them real. They become almost as real to me as the people I actually encounter in my life. I can see in my mind in detail the places where the story takes place--I am there and I know what everything looks like. The settings of my stories become places that are absolutely real to me.
Being unable to visualize what I am going to write is when inspiration is labored. At that point I may have to look at a map or research what I want to write about. Inability to understand inhibits being able see a clear image of my writing subject.
Call it what you will, the ability to see the movie in my mind allows me to write the screenplay for whatever I am seeing. Whether a short story or a novel, I need to be able to drop myself in the midst of that story's world and become an observer in that world.
Success is when I find myself thinking about that world at random times during the day or relating my story to things I hear about or witness. At times I may be experiencing life in a duality of existence--I am here where I am, but part of me is living in the level of my story. In some ways this might sound a little crazy, but I think everyone in every pursuit does something very similar. We are who we are and who we want others to think we are.
My ultimate visualization victory is when I begin to dream the characters, setting, and story. At that point I realize that the writing that I am working on has firmly placed itself into my subconscious and is now an absolute part of me. Once I have achieved the ability to dream about my story I am often able to find solutions to aspects that have perplexed me, new understandings about characters or story concepts, or even new directions for the plot to take.
What approach works best for you in creating your story and its elements? Do you lean more toward a structured and practical approach? If so, why do you think that works best? How intensely do you resort to visualization? What are the hazards of relying on vivid visualization? If you are not a writer, do you use visualization in your own pursuit?
Tomorrow I will be addressing the topic of creative visualization. On Wednesday I will have a special post with a scheduled stop on Tamara Hart Heiner's book tour appearing on Tossing It Out. Then on Thursday I'll be pulling something out of my hat.