Imagining Better Writing

thinkingIt’s always interesting when real life confirms science. A meta-analysis by the University of Toronto does just that. Researchers found that images, primarily paintings, activate specific neurons associated with learning and inner thoughts and emotions.

It also sets up a system that activates the brain’s reward circuit. In a way, it’s like your own classical conditioning experiment. The positive reinforcement from visualizing and creating feeds into this system.

Using Images

Novel writing software often uses images with character and location sketches. Along with the detailed notes of profession, looks, and quirks, you can also select images to represent the main features of your work. I’ve followed this practice with my previous mystery and now with my new work-in-progress.

All of my characters have faces—and homes! A quick search online led me to the perfect houses and furnishings for all of the major scenes in my book. Having this material handy makes writing so much easier.

They don’t have to be online images, though it does keep things tidy. A gardening book from my bookshelf gave me the ideal setting for one of my character’s backyard. It added a new dimension to my writing experience to have a visual. And it’s certainly something you can bring to your own work.

The Science Behind It

With advances in neuroscience, we’re able to peak behind the Oz curtain and see what’s going on. Susan Reynold’s book, Fire Up Your Writing Brain, delves more deeply into the science of writing. Our brains continue to develop and change all through our lives, a concept known as neuroplasticity.

Building habits and routines adds this process, as does a healthy dose of mindfulness and gratitude. Images for elements of your book are one way to start cultivating those good practices.

Here’s my challenge to you: if you are writing a book, visualize it. Collect images to represent the elements of your project. Think on them before you write, and use them as you write. See if your writing doesn’t take on a greater sense of place and vibrancy.

By Chris DR/http://mystery.weborglodge.com

photo credit: The Thinker via photopin (license)