• Visualization Exercises for Writers, Part I

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Inspiration     Comments 18 comments

    Bored at Work“Writing is so easy for me; I never have a frustrating writing session,” says a writer who’s totally lying. You’re going to have hellish days, days when you’re thisclose to printing out your manuscript only for the satisfaction of setting it aflame and watching that garbage burn.

    (Protip: Do that in the shower or the kitchen sink, and not, like, on the carpet near the drapes and the lighter fluid.)

    Bad writing sessions are unavoidable. And sometimes a crummy writing day bleeds into another, and another, and soon it becomes a bad writing week, and then Sunday turns to Monday and you’re still stopped up, and if you can’t rein it in and you can’t get unstuck then, look, now it’s two weeks, and now a month, and then damn, where did the summer go and what’s to do about that vow you made to finish your book by Halloween?

    [Tweet “”Writing is easy for me; I never have a frustrating day,” says a writer who’s totally lying.”]


    So, What’s To Do?

    Writer’s frustration can become a runaway eighteen-wheeler if you allow it. You need to locate one of those ramps with the steep incline that will slow your roll, allow you to catch your breath and get back on that highway to success! (Boy, have I slaughtered this metaphor.)

    If your bad writing days are beginning to pile up like so much jetsam and/or flotsam, it might be time to step away from your WIP for a moment and imagine it as a WIB instead.

    “What’s a WIB, Duhr?” I just made it up. It stands for work-in-bookstore. Your book, completed, published, and ready for mass consumption.

    If publication in book form is among your writerly aspirations, and you’re currently in the middle of a rough patch, setting aside an hour for visualization may be just what you need. What follows is one of several (not-scientifically) proven visualization exercises for writers stuck in a rut.

    [Tweet “”Protip: Burn your ms. in the shower, and not, like, near the drapes and the lighter fluid.””]


    Get Thee to a Bookstore

    Gimme some room, Dum-ass

    Gimme some room, Dum-ass

    Just drop what you’re doing and go. Try to leave your frustration at home, and on the walk or drive there, do your best not to think about your book at all. Once you arrive, go to the section where your WIB will be displayed, find the specific spot on the specific shelf, and just stand there for a minute.

    See my spot to the right, taken at a nearby bookstore. I’d be right there, nestled in between Polly Dugan and Alexandre Dumas.

    Gently nudge aside those adjacent books (if your last name is Duhr, you may find yourself saying “Shove over, Dum-ass,” and then looking around to see if anyone heard you and being relieved to find yourself alone in the row) — make room for a copy of yours. Hell, make room for multiple copies of yours. Because it’s going to be a hit, right? And so not only will they want to stock four or five copies on the shelf, but they’ll also want some copies for those grazer tables: the staff picks, the book club selections, the hot summer reads.

    Just stand there and look at that empty space until you feel awkward, and visualize it as full of books, your title and name spread down the spines of fresh new hardcovers, your ideal publisher’s colophon at the bottom. Or maybe it’s a paperback with that #1 sticker on it? Take your time and really allow yourself to see it.

    Take a photo, if you want. Print it out, tape it above your computer. Look up at it for some extra juice when you’re in a hole.

    I know this sounds twee, but it’s worked for me, and it’s worked for several friends of mine. We writers must take whatever inspiration we can find.

    [Tweet “At the bookstore, gently nudge aside the adjacent books and make room for yours.”]


    More… Sort Of… and Discussion

    Perhaps having your WIP become a WIB isn’t your ultimate goal. If that’s the case, we have a few more ideas for you!

    But not today. Oh, snap! But come on, we can’t give all our goodies away in one post. Because why would you ever come back? Also, this has already gone on for too long. And who has time to read more than 800 words’ worth of visualization exercises for writers when there’s so much, like, writing to do and so little time?

    So check back in a few weeks for more visualization exercises for writers. Or check back every week. Why not?

    Writers: What do you do when you’ve hit a rough patch? Do you ever employ any visualization techniques? Care to share ’em with the group? Let us know in the comments section below.

    For weekly writing-related goodies in your inbox, join our mailing list, which you can do in the right sidebar. We’re also on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Hint hint.


    David DuhrWriteByNight co-founder David Duhr is books editor and fiction editor at the Texas Observer and contributes regularly to the Dallas Morning News, Publishing Perspectives, the Observer and others.

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    Thanks for this, David, you provided some block-clearing techniques I had never considered before. Visualizing the successful result should work very well!

    Annie Sargeant

    As I wade through deep revision I find inspiration in
    your hilarious advice about not burning the curtains as
    you torch the latest fiasco version of your book.

    Only just discovered ‘filter words’ and am having a
    ball discovering other ways of saying
    things. It’s like Christmas every day unwrapping
    new and exciting phrases eliminating the filter
    words have forced me to create I’m definitely on
    a roll !!

    A Jax

    doesnt work so well for those of us in the sticks,
    Not near a bookstore. I tried it on Amazon but it
    Doesn’t work! Lol

    I like this idea though, and I’m looking forward to
    the next one. Maybe it can be done from home?

    This is a service you guys could provide, going to
    bookstores for us rural folk and taking these inspirational
    photos. Though I know I would probably shove aside
    Shirley Jackson, I don’t know who the other would be.

    Martin Barkley

    Burning things is bad. Carbon footprint and whatnot. I recommend a cross-cut shredder. I love jamming six sheets at a time into that growling little bastard. “Grrrrrrr…That’ll teach you, you poser, to try to write like George Saunders!” Very therapeutic, and relatively harmless to the environment, too. Bookstores are lonely places, dusty, musty places, with creepy people. When I go there I feel lonely and dusty and creepy. So bookstores are a no-go for me. Stumped and frustrated, I once shoved my head through the wall in my office. The wall is conveniently located next to my desk, a mere… Read more »

    Glynis Jolly

    My ultimate goal is to have my book (printed on paper in a cover) in a bookstore, either on or off line. However, I want to fix the problem that is making me stuck. I think I need to just go ahead and pick some resource books I’ve been meaning to buy for a long time, find they in the used section, and buy as many as I can afford (I got a gift card for my birthday.). It won’t stop there though. I need to read them/use them too.

    Annie Sargeant

    My method of powering thru a ‘ stoppage”

    Is to do other things while I sit there like right
    Justification and other nuts and bolts which
    Keep me focused on the task at hand ( if I
    Don’t get up I don’t get distracted as easily)

    Also use the “notepad” on my phone to record
    Thoughts etc when I’m not @ my lptp


    Annie Sargeant

    So I have this chain, see? With a timer
    and a really screechy alarm ?

    Annie Sargeant

    You guys are so right when u say there is no excuse for not writing every day

    Ok so actually this beats the shit out of my laptop- it’s way lighter, it corrects my mistakes and the fucking cursor doesn’t leap all over the page ! Problem solved. Can I write a novel on my phone ?
    We’ll see. Move over dum ass laptop,
    Talk about not trusting myself I am such a lousy typist, I am faster on my cell phone with one finger than I am on my laptop with all ten!

    Sent from my iPhone

    Annie Sargeant

    What’s the Dragon app?
    I think my laptop is possessed
    I can be typing along and suddenly the cursor
    Capriciously leaps to another part of the page #%*==~<€!!!! Thought I had the
    Issue dealt w/ by using my phone but there are other
    problems as well like a different font and size etc. ::::heavy sigh:::: is my laptop
    On its deathbed?

    Annie Sargeant

    Wait! I know. It’s the software app that let’s you d
    You dictate to your 7.0 phone right?

    Annie Sargeant

    You guys really rock!! Thx so much for your
    kind words .
    Re: dedication. I cannot begin to say what a difference.
    it makes having a decent laptop that is not sucking my
    energy and time -these are such valuable
    commodities I can’t believe I let it go on,laptops being
    As relatively cheap as they are – I mean @ 300.00
    And say it lasts 3 years that’s a hundred bucks a year.
    Even I who makes 15.00 /hr when I work can shake that

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