Tools For Writers: Process Visualization

I'm almost finished reading Uncertainty, by Jonathan Fields.  The sub-title is: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance.  Make no mistake about it, this book is about creativity.  I'm gleaning some good stuff from it, and one reason I love it is that Fields mentions stuff I've been doing (and writing about) for years and gives them actual names.  That same propensity for naming and categorizing is actually probably my main dislike of the book, too, just because I tend to be a loosey-goosey type when it comes to creativity.  But that's a minor quibble.

I want to share a couple of these techniques with you, one today, and one on Monday. 

Today's technique is something Fields calls process visualization. 

Fields says that traditional visualization is not good for the early stages of a creative project because that's when there's a lot of uncertainty, and attempting to pull your brain into line at this point does more harm than good.  He calls this kind of traditional visualization outcome stimulation.  Its when you create a specific picture of an outcome in your brain and visualize it often.  Key word here is outcome.

But when you switch it up and focus on process visualization, crazy good things can happen, and this apparently has science to back it up.  What you do is visualize yourself writing.  (Or painting, or creating a business, whatever your creative idea is about.)  So, if you want to get up early and work on your Nanowrimo novel, you see yourself happily opening your eyes to the alarm, getting out of bed, grabbing your coffee, and getting right to work.  The words flow easily and well for you and you complete your quota and get on with your day.

I've actually done this off and on for years.  I remember reading about it in a book on writing (minus the fancy name) back when I struggled to have courage to put words on paper.  I tried it with success and have returned to it whenever I've had a difficult time motivating myself.  So I urge you to put it in your toolbox and consider pulling it out when need be.

A note about visualization in general: as you might have noticed, I offer a free Ebook on creating a vision board for your book.  (It is yours for the taking, all you have to do is fill out the form to the right.)  So you might be wondering how that jibes with the whole visualization thing.

The kind of visualizing Fields says he doesn't like is the type where you envision the finished project.  I think there's a place for that, definitely, and it thinking about having your novel done and in the bookstores can spur you on to get it done.  What I advocate in my Ebook, however, is using a vision board as a way to gather and coalesce ideas and images that will help you throughout the process of writing the book.  It is an process of opening up, not closing down.

So, tell me.  Do you ever use process visualization in your work?  With what results?

And by the way, don't forget my upcoming class on gathering ideas and using them to set goals.  Read more about it here.

PS.  Sorry for the lack of a photo.  I've been battling a headache all week and I just don't have it in me to go look for one.  Hey, here's an idea–you can visualize your own image to accompany the post!


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7 Responses to Tools For Writers: Process Visualization

  1. J.D. Frost 11/12/2011 at 04:38 #

    Hi Charlotte. This is new to me! I have visualize myself doing all sorts of things (and it’s probably good that most of them have not come true), but writing is not one of them. I’m hoping that I can dredge up an image of myself hard at work, pumping out that 1000 words. I’ll go to sleep with or spend my breakfast with it. Good stuff.

  2. Fear of Writing 11/12/2011 at 07:38 #

    When I saw the term “Process Visualization” my eyes kind of glazed over. Like you, I’m not fond of those kinds of labels. They sound so dry and Freudian, I have trouble even remembering them, much less guessing what they might mean. But when you described what it is, that’s when I realized it’s a fancy term for a simple act that might really make a difference.

    I’m about to take a walk in the park. I’ll spend some time visualizing myself writing happily, easily able to fit that in with the millions of non-writing details I’ll need to attend to this coming week.

    P.S. Sorry about your headache. I know how draining it can be when it goes on and on. I’m impressed you had the energy to put a blog post together. Hope you feel better soon.

  3. J.D. Frost 11/12/2011 at 15:51 #

    Charlotte, I’d like to second what Fear said about your headache. Hope it’s better. I do have the photo for your post in my mind’s eye. I see a woman in the Lotus position, her eyes closed and her smiling face turned upward. How then will I ever visualize? If I get myself into a Lotus position it will take nothing short of two John Deeres to untangle me.

  4. Charlotte Dixon 11/12/2011 at 19:28 #

    J.D., it is good news, isn’t it? Good luck with those 1000 words.

    Milli, that’s a great way to describe it–a fancy term for a simple act that can really help. Glad I’m not the only one who gets annoyed with all the labels of simple creative acts. And thanks for the sympathy about the headache. It was awful all day yesterday but acupuncture knocked it out, thank God!

  5. Charlotte Dixon 11/12/2011 at 19:35 #

    J.D., thanks for your good thoughts about my headache, too. Love your idea for an image for the post! And yeah, I hear you about the Lotus position, I just meditate in a chair these days.

  6. Fear of Writing 11/12/2011 at 19:37 #

    Yay for acupuncture! Glad to hear you got relieved of that headache.

  7. Charlotte Dixon 11/12/2011 at 19:43 #

    Thanks, Milli, acupuncture is amazing for so many things!

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