Learning How My Brain Works on Stories

A few years ago, it was brought to everyone’s attention that some people think in words, some in pictures and feelings, and other in a combination. The presence or lack of an “inner monologue” sparked a lot of conversations. The implications of this revelation blew my mind and continue to do so every time I see a reminder.

Immediately I wondered if this affects the way people interact with books and writing. Could your thinking process affect whether you are a plotter or pantser? Do people with few mind pictures enjoy reading less? The list goes on.

Only recently did I begin to consider the consequences for me personally. I am a combination thinker. I always have words running in my mind but they are often accompanied by pictures. When I think of calendars I get a color coded or shaded grid in my mind, for example.

BUT there is a notable exception. When I try to think about stories I want to write, I primarily get pictures and emotions. I know the mood I want to write but no outline of events comes to me. Not usually and not easily.

I am ecstatic. All of this could mean that what I thought was writer’s block and a lack of good ideas might actually simply be a communication error between the different parts of my brain. And one that I may be able to correct.

So, now that I am armed with this knowledge of myself, I am looking for a way to translate the pictures, moods, feelings, random bits of dialogue, and character memories into an actual story. Into an outline so I can have something more tangible to hold on to when I get lost in the quicksand of my brain.

The first thing I’m going to try is to outline the feelings and moods. Example:

  • Start with feeling lost
  • Something hopeful – but still skeptical
  • Gradual improvements
  • Deep despair
  • Glimmer of hope
  • Triumph

This is random and not a story I’m actually working on but you get the idea. I usually have more than just feelings in the beginning. But listing the things in my mind and giving them basic words might be the first step I need to take.

I’ll report back once I have tried it a few times. See if anything else develops along the way.

Do you think in words or images? Does it affect your relationship with books and/or writing?