Your Brain Products Catalog
Visualization is the technique of imagining visual pictures. It closes off the left hemisphere of your brain and lets the right hemisphere express insights and inspirations without criticisms. Visualization also involves the exploration of pictures that come to your mind allowing you to experience a kind of waking dream.
Suppose you have come up with a wonderful idea on which to base a story, one that keeps nudging at your brain, demanding to be written. But all you have is a fragment an image of an old woman riding a train, an offhand comment made by a friend, a glimpse of an old house that surely must be haunted. The flour just sits there in the bowl, waiting for you to decide on the next ingredient.
You might not be at the point where you're stalled because of burnout, or deadline pressures, but if you keep writing, eventually you're likely to hit some variation of this problem. We all seem to run over most of the same ruts in the road sooner or later, after all. If and when you do bounce across this one, keep my busman's holiday in mind. sometimes the only thing that will set your writing free is to write just for yourself. No matter how tight your deadline is or how desperate you are to get a particular project out the door, remember that your brain is not hardware. It doesn't
Exercise and shit like that. You won't be lifting those bales and toting that hay, but to work your mind, your brain still needs a good supply of oxygenated blood, and healthy highways to get it there and back to the heart and lungs. Twenty minutes of aerobic exercise four times a week or better, and a diet as low in animal products (none is best) and as high in raw fruits and vegetables as you can manage will strip the cholesterol out of your arteries and keep them from hardening. cadavers from apparently healthy children as young as eight have shown fatty deposits and the beginnings of hardening of the arteries, so no matter who you are or how young you are, this is an issue.
You have a job, right You're going to be sitting at a keyboard stretching your brain for God knows how many hours. Your family (and friends) will keep this in mind, right Wrong. Your family and friends will figure as long as you're home all day, you might as well be doing something useful, like laundry, or running the kids everywhere, or going out to breakfast or lunch or shopping or The list of things other people will find for you to do is endless, and destructive beyond belief. Given the opportunity, they will kill your writing, then shake their heads when you fail and say they always knew it wouldn't work. Guard your time fanatically.
Those words start to loom after a while, don't they I haven't written. What they mean is I'm worthless, I'm talentless, I have nothing to say and even if I did no one would want to listen, I don't know why I think I can do this, and I don't think I want to and I just can't stop. And you don't have to be writing full-time - and counting on making your deadline in order to make the rent - for those three words from Hell to pound through your brain with the awful portent of Poe's narrator's telltale heart.
Creativity is where all poetry, art, drama, music and ideas come from that touch people on a deep emotional level. Creativity is made up of two parts. First there is Primary Creativity which comes from your unconscious and the right hemisphere of your brain, the source of all new ideas and insights. It's where your inspiration comes from and makes up only 10 of the creative process. Then, there is Secondary Creativity, which comes from the left hemisphere and is the 90 that involves editing, discipline, logic, structure, rewriting, and order.
As for all those ideas you come up with while you're working - keep a notebook on hand for them if you'd like. I'll tell you a secret, though. I don't usually write down the neat ideas that flit through my mind while I'm writing. The really good ideas will brand themselves on your brain and still be there when you're ready for the next book. The mediocre ones that only seem really good will fall through the cracks and trouble you no more. I don't sweat the ideas I've forgotten. If they were worth my time, I would have remembered them. The big secret about chapters is that they're not much of anything but a convenience for the writer, and secondarily for the reader. There are days when you simply aren't getting the pages done that you want and you desperately want to say you've finished a chapter because your brain needs to focus on something fresh. So you come to the
There are some critical questions that you must answer before you begin your manuscript. Answer these questions in writing, not in your head. To me, the bottom line on outlining is writing down everything I can possibly think of with regard to the story. You will find that the process of actually writing down those great thoughts you have might knock you up against the harsh rocks of reality. Sometimes it looks very different in black in white on paper, than in color in your brain.
You go into the grocery store most anywhere in the United States, most any time of the year. You can find apples. Red Delicious, Yellow Delicious, Granny Smith. Maybe Macintosh. They'll be in the produce section, well-waxed, beautiful to behold, stacked neatly in those geometric patterns grocers love. You take them home, you eat them, your brain says you ate an apple. But you didn't. You ate something with about as much taste as the wax fruit my grandmother used to keep on her table, and whatever that insipid thing was, it wasn't an apple. Unless you live in the North and have access to the roadside produce stands or to growers' orchards, and you go out driving on one of those breathtaking autumn days when the sky has turned an impossible blue and the leaves on the sugar maples are crimson and maroon and lemon yellow, and unless you have purchased a small paper bag full of apples with names you have never heard before, you have never tasted an apple. You have tasted a...
Write whatever else you can think of right now. See where you're starting to get the feel for a novel A big novel Good. Keep moving back and forth, from your map to your notes. Add stuff to the map as it occurs to you. Add stuff to the notes until something inside your brain goes ding and lets you know that you have a book idea that you're genuinely excited about.
Staring at a blank screen for hours is not necessarily productive. Get up, get out of the house, and move your body. Give yourself an hour. Take a hike up a canyon. Fresh air and activity for your heart helps your brain. I often discover sentences or scenes as I'm walking. Jot down ideas that occur to you when you get back to your journal or carry a mini-recorder as you walk.
Have you ever been envious of people who seem to have no end of clever ideas, who are able to think quickly in any situation, or who seem to have flawless memories? Could it be that they're just born smarter or quicker than the rest of us? Or are there some secrets that they might know that we don't?