Everybody listens to music…
Well okay, I don’t do listen much, because I get way too distracted. I can’t listen to music and do anything else at the same time. But anyhoo…
Everybody listens to music. Everybody seeks out music. And everybody can find music because there are a zillion sources from iTunes to Spotify to Bandcamp.
But many of us don’t seek out visual stimulation. The number of people who go to art galleries is tiny compared to the number of people who go to music venues.
Of course, there are plenty of visual sources besides galleries: Instagram, Pinterest, Deviant Art, to name a few. There are also infinite quantities of cute animal pictures out in the world…for which we must be grateful on days when almost everything else in life sucks.
But if you’re a writer, you should be constantly filling your eyes with visual input. Geography, for example. What can a desert look like? We’ve all seen picturesque sand dunes, but what other possibilities are there? What do desert-dwelling people look like? What do desert settlements look like? Desert animals? Desert rocks? You never know when you might need to write a scene that takes place in a desert. Filling your eyes and brain with desert images ahead of time gives you resources to draw on if you need them.
The same goes for other environments. Also for things: castles and railways and factories and alleys and parks and crustaceans and whatever exists in the world. And people: people of all ages, types, cultures, past and present.
Make a point of seeking web sites and other sources of diverse visuals. Do it every day. Make bookmarks for images that interest you. Cover your writing desk with pictures that get your juices flowing.
These days, it’s a cliche to ask, “What music do you have on your phone?” But I remember a Robertson Davies novel where a character asks, “What pictures does he have on his walls?” That really got me thinking. And I started figuring out what visuals might put me in the mood to write.
Writers should have pictures. A lot of them. And writers should make a point of seeing new things every day.
[Candy cane picture from gallery.yopriceville.com]