Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Posted by Laurel Garver on Tuesday, July 08, 2014 12 comments
Photo by clarita at morguefile.com
If you’re suffering from serious stress, so much that stringing sentences together feels impossible, try taking a purely visual route to writing. Pick up your favorite writing utensil and doodle instead. It can be a wonderful way to brainstorm elements of your story.

The images don’t need to be great art. Go as silly or serious as your mood dictates. The goal is to get in touch with your the intuitive part of your mind. The jury is still out regarding whether certain kinds of creativity are consigned to a particular side of the brain (studies now challenge a right brain/left brain dichotomy when it comes to artistic, musical and literary skill), but research has consistently shown that drawing can improve memory, increase intuition, reduce stress, and raise levels of helpful brain chemicals. So, let's draw!

Exercises

Doodle floor plans and maps of your settings
Doodle building exteriors from your settings
Doodle interiors of important rooms
Doodle images of key scenes as panels in a storyboard
Doodle a key scene or image from an unusual angle
Doodle characters in their most typical pose and expression
Doodle a range of character expressions
Doodle characters’ wardrobes
Doodle favorite things for each character
Doodle family portraits and family trees
Doodle key memories for your characters
Doodle tattoos and graffiti your character might choose or create
Doodle characters’ dreamworlds
Doodle characters’ pets or livestock
Doodle chapter header images

Have you ever used doodles to brainstorm? Which visual brainstorming (aka doodling) exercise might you try? 

12 comments:

  1. I totally doodle floor plans, and any significant artifacts to the story. I doodle inventions and anything that I really need a visual of. I've always done it on an as-needed basis and hadn't thought to push it further, but I really like the idea! Perhaps I will try this soon. :)

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    1. Floor plans are super helpful in knowing how to "block" your scenes, as theater and film directors do. Your descriptions will always be consistent if you know how the rooms connect to each other. Like you, I've tended to draw as needed, but have read numerous blog posts now from visual thinkers who find doodling an essential brainstorming tool. Several also noted it as a way to spur the subconscious to approach plot problems without pressure.

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  2. I've never thought of doodling as a creative outlet, even though I doodle on every bit of paper I own. I always thought I did it because I was so easily bored. But I do love the sinuous curves and the balanced lines of doodling. Now I know why. :)

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    1. Doodling is good for your brain. It can also be a helpful brainstorming and revision tool if done with a specific intent.

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  3. Yes to doodling. I used to doodle in college. My notebooks were filled with swooping, looping patterns, but it seemed to help me focus on lectures. Now I doodle when I'm brainstorming stories. I loved this post.

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    1. Some of the research on doodling was directly related to that--how it helps people remember lecture material in education settings. Glad you found the post helpful!

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  4. I'm not much of a doodler, but one thing i have found interesting is "mind mapping" for brainstorming, which is sort of doodlish! `I did make a map of one of my settings once too and found that surprisingly helpful.

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    1. mind mapping is a good hybrid of visual and verbal--something I'll likely blog about in the future, once I figure out how best to create the visual. Doodle maps are a great tool. It definitely helps to have some kind of visual of your settings so you can choreograph where things happen. Layouts of building interiors are also helpful that way.

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  5. I love doing this, even though my drawing skills are pretty sparse. I like to doodle what my character would doodle. :)

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    1. I love that idea as a way to connect to your character's inner world!

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  6. I recently made my son a house out of cardboard boxes. I was thinking of drawing stuff on it to make it more fun. Like maybe a dragon! =) And if it makes me more productive when I set down to write later that night, then win/win!

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    1. Trying to write when your mind is clenched vs. relaxed is pretty tough, so yeah, I imagine that any artwork you do during the day will help relax your mind and unleash creativity.

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