How To Write Without A Visual Brain

Published on 22 March 2022 at 18:28

Are you team Visual Brain or team Word Brain?

In our household, there are definitely two camps. While I need words to paint a picture in my head, my husband doesn't. He can visualize entire worlds inside his head just like that. No words or descriptions needed! 

There are times when I try to write, I really don't have any inspiration and my own tips and tricks of overcoming writer's block don't work. Those are the times that I really wish I had a visual brain. How awesome it must be to close my eyes and see the story happening in front of me. Because you know what happens inside of my head when I write? The visuals come to life as the words form on paper. It's only when I finish the story that I can see the entire picture come to life. 

It's been that way my entire life, and I've been writing for almost 20 years now. It's taken me a hot minute to deal with not seeing what I wanted to describe. But now, I know how to get the most out of my writing without having the visuals before I start making magic with my words. It even goes that far that my stories are being reviewed as being "descriptive" (review is in Dutch, I'm sorry)! This is how I write descriptive stories without having a Visual Brain.

Prepare the details

This is by far my favorite method of writing descriptive stories without actually seeing them happen in your head before you've written them down: prepare beforehand! As you might know by now, I looove preparing, planning and plotting. But that doesn't stop with my characters. I've written down notebooks full of notes on things that I wasn't ever going to use in my stories, but that did help me set the stage for each story. I penned down everything I could remember from settings that I'd ever been to that resembled the one I wanted to write about. Once I had something on paper, I could see that vision coming to life. And the best part was: I could also see what was missing. So I could go from there. Sure, this takes a few rounds and a couple of tries, but once you finish, you'll have an amazing backbone for the visuals in your story before you even start writing!

Show, don't tell

This might be the oldest writing advice out there, and that isn't without reason. This goes for character's emotions, but also for settings if you ask me. When I first started writing serious stories, I used to exaggerate like a fool (makes me wonder how serious those stories really were afterwards lol). Instead of "the grass is green," I would write "the grass had the color of life, the dew that kissed the tips of each blade gave the field a glistening look - as if it had diamonds sprinkled all over it"... and so forth, and so on. You get the gist: show every little detail instead of assuming people know what you mean. This has honestly helped me so much with being able to write descriptive stories. And of course, this takes practice, too. Nobody wants to read mile long sentences about how each blade of grass looks. But it's good practice. And it's always easier to cut words than to add them, in my opinion. After all, it's all about balance, baby.

Add as you write

I mentioned it briefly, but I'll do it again: one of the best practices when learning how to write descriptive stories, is to add descriptions as you go. If you use the tips I shared above, you'll get a start. And when you have something on paper, you can edit it! Meaning that you can add as much descriptions as you see are missing once you made a start. And that's the beauty of having a Word Brain: we might not see our stories before we start writing them, but when there's something on paper... oh, that's where our magic happens!

- Pia Sophia

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