Power Up Your Prose through Visualization
May 20th 2012 21:01
“Sit and quiet yourself. Luxuriate in a certain memory and the details will come. Let the images flow. You’ll be amazed at what will come out on paper. I’m still learning what it is about the past that I want to write. I don’t worry about it. It will emerge. It will insist on being told.”—Frank McCourt
“You are the landlord of your own soul. Let the words, the memories, the imaginings pour white-hot onto the page. You can decide later what they are, what they might become, and when it is time to show them to someone else.”—Pat Schneider, Writing Alone and With Others (Oxford University Press, 2003), p.13
Your Gift to Your Readers
When you write, one of the greatest gifts you can give your reader is to allow yourself the freedom to fully experience and adequately explore the topics about which you write. Whether crafting magazine articles, books, blog posts, literary essays, promotional web copy, fiction, or creative non-fiction pieces, pausing to visualize your content, your concept, or the experience you hope to convey through your words will add a spark of creativity, energy, and authenticity to your work that will thoroughly engage your reader, building both intellectual and emotional rapport and drawing the reader deeper into the piece.
That Magical Connection
The opportunity for total engagement, to the exclusion of all else, is not just a gift you give your reader. It’s also a gift you give yourself, because developing a genuine connection between reader and author—one which impels the reader forward in irresistible anticipation of the gems of wisdom or journeys of fancy the work holds in store—creates an almost magical bond that allows your personal vision to become a shared vision, if only for a few brief moments. If, as a writer, you hope to totally engross your reader, you’ll find no shortcuts. The element of visualization is an integral part of the process—and you ignore it to your own creative peril.
The Spark: Creative vs. Mundane
This is one reason great writing is not necessarily synonymous with a perfect understanding of language mechanics—and that’s fabulous news for those who lack these skills yet yearn to express themselves through the written word. While mechanics are wonderful to know as a writer and will make the writing life much easier, thankfully they are not essential to the heart of self-expression. That’s why we have editors—to drape the writer’s inspired prose in appropriate dress, making it more “presentable” to “polite” literary company. Without question, the beauty must absolutely already exist in the piece for the editor to “bring it out.” If the creative spark is missing, an author’s perfect grammar, syntax, punctuation, and spelling will certainly fall short of the excellent-writing mark, and no level of editing—other than a complete rewrite—will compensate for the lack.
Writer or Editor: Power vs. Precision
Have you ever read a writer whose work was riddled with grammatical, punctuation, and spelling errors and rife with run-on sentences, yet whose prose had the power to move you…to awaken heretofore unimagined new possibilities in your soul…to open brand new vistas before you…to literally transform you from within? Has such a writer ever lifted you…transported you…swept you up on a tide of lofty ideas or vivid imaginings, depositing you delightfully onto the shores of an exciting new intellectual realm? Hopefully you’ve experienced the joy of such a profound intellectual encounter many times. Assuming you have, what component of that author’s writing do you think accomplished that singular literary feat—despite his or her shortcomings in the mechanics of the craft?
The Elements of Powerful Prose
You might answer “creativity,” “emotion,” “passion,” or even “style” or “flow.” Or, you might mention any one of a number of other elements that breathe life into an author’s writing. And you would certainly be correct, for without these complementary components, a piece of writing could never achieve “magical,” “noble,” or “transcendent” status. Yet, I submit that visualization is the creative conduit through which each of the above elements is fully realized and that, thus, the ability to generate vivid mental pictures is indispensably linked to the creation of consistently powerful prose.
Through visualization, we can expand the boundaries of our creativity to a virtually limitless degree. We can explore, relive, and even generate the myriad emotions that make our writing uniquely ours and yet strangely able to touch a chord that resonates with our reader. And we can inspire a whole world of readers to embrace the same transformational vision, the same cathartic emotion we ourselves have experienced and have so vividly conveyed. Through visualization, we can tap the primal energy that fuels our passion, sending that same passionate energy coursing through our reader’s veins.
Catch the Vision
Whatever your writing style, niche, or genre—and, equally significantly, whatever your level of ability with the mechanics of language—visualization will deliver new power, immediacy, and impact to your prose. Therefore, no matter how tight your deadline or how full your writing schedule, determine to spend a little time simply staring off into space as you write, allowing the incredible vision of all that your work can become to wash over your mind and heart and letting the limitless possibilities of imagination fuel the fires of creativity in your soul.
Visualization is not a luxury. For the serious writer, it’s as natural as breathing—a process that infuses every creative “cell” with the “oxygen” and “nutrients” it requires for vibrant health and optimal function. You may need to quiet your internal slave driver each time she reminds you sharply that you have far too much work to do to stop and feel, dream, and watch your ideas invisibly materialize in your mind’s eye. You may struggle to rein in your unnatural tendency to believe that time spent “simply” thinking instead of writing is time wasted. Yet, taking control of these unruly psychological elements will bring new freedom and vibrancy to your writing.
The ability to contemplate, reflect upon, and experience reality—or fantasy—via the mind’s eye always justifies the battle you’ll wage to make this skill your own. The concept may even seem somewhat foreign to you right now, but if it does, that’s all the more reason to give it a try. Once you’ve made visualization a normal part of your literary routine, your writing—no matter what kind it is—will develop a magic it’s never come close to before.
To your creative vision,
What are your thoughts on visualization as a component of writing, and how has visualization shaped your own prose?
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