Sunday, September 05, 2010

Before Jumping Into the Pool

Lately, I’ve taken to walking before sitting down to work each morning.

It’s a slow, meditative walk that lets me immerse myself in my story rather than in the neighborhood (and neighbors) around me.

With each step, I try to envision my characters in certain situations so that I can sit down at my desk when I return home with a clear picture in my head of the scenes that may unfold during the hours that I’ll spend with the characters later that day.

The act of walking is liberating because I’m no longer tethered to my desk, tied to pen or paper or computer.

I don’t have to worry about the words; instead, I can focus on the story as it appears as pictures in my head while I walk.

I can let my imagination wander wherever it needs to wander inside the scenes without struggling to capture the scenes in words.

It’s almost as if I’ve walked into a darkened theater–it’s early when I go on my walks, the sky still dim, not yet flooded with light– and the screen is filled with images from my imagination, and, as I walk, I’m able to watch as the story unfolds and begin to understand where the story’s going and where my characters may be taking me.

Visualizing your story (or meditating) this way is different from outlining.

It relies on pictures rather than words, and the pictures don’t need to appear in any particular order or sequence.

Once you can visualize a scene, you can enter and explore it using all your senses so that you can learn more about the world of your characters and why they may act the way they do.

Of course, you needn’t go on a walk to visualize your story. You can close your eyes while you’re sitting at your desk or taking a cross-town bus or eating lunch or napping on the couch in your office.

But I happen to enjoy walking–sometimes along the beach, sometime on the streets of my neighborhood–as a way to stretch my imagination’s muscles before diving into the water and beginning to write each day.

What about you? Do you have a routine that helps you visualize your work? What is it, and how has it helped you write your story?

Let us know when you get a chance.

For more on visualization and meditation before writing, visit:


Michelle Edwards said...

I call them working walks. For me, it's usually right after my morning coffee. I have a special little purse I take with me, In it I put index cards,or a tiny notebook. And a pen. During allergy season, I stuff in a kleenex. I walk past farms and fileds, houses, stores. How ideas, stories surface as my feet move along never ceases to amaze me. I stop to jot them down, giving myself time, space to make them real.

Bruce Black said...

Wish I could join you on one of your morning walks. (I'd pass on the purse, but take the index cards or notebook.) Sometimes, though, I find the walk liberating precisely because I don't have to write anything down... can just take pleasure in the images and ideas. Those that "stick" usually resurface later when I return to my desk.