How good are you at visualizing? When you remember an experience you’ve had, do the same emotions you experienced originally bubble up with the memory?
If you were the one from last week’s blog who was standing on that ski slope snapping photos of the scene, and if you brought those photos home to paint that scene on a canvas, would you be more concerned with copying the picture exactly, or would your thoughts be mostly focused on the majesty of the mountains and the awe you felt?
To the degree you can “see” the pictures in your head and “feel” the emotions in your heart, will be the degree to which your audience – readers, viewers, listeners, etc. – will see and feel, too, and hear the story you’re telling them.
All artists are storytellers, and therein lies the secret to great art … you want to reach your audience’s heart as well as their head. This is especially true for the writers and drawers of picture books. If you’re only giving your readers facts and information - unless it’s instructions and graphics for a manual or a text book - that won’t be enough.
If they are only spectators, maybe it was a good story.
But if they experience the story along with the characters ... then you have given them a GREAT story!
And your pony can help you do that. This is why you have him … why you have all those wonderful intense emotions.
Accessing your pony is no biggie, but it’s elusive if you “try” too hard. Like “trying” to relax or fall asleep, the harder you work at it, the less likely you’ll be relaxing or sleeping. Accessing your pony – all that intense creative energy inside - works the same way.
Say you’re writing a story about bullying. If you were ever bullied, you can pull from personal experience … how did it feel? What did you think about your bully? How did you respond? Did you feel powerless? Did you fight back? Did you tell anyone? You can pull from those memories, thoughts and emotions to describe for your readers what the main character is experiencing.
What if you’ve never been bullied? Well, that’s a good thing if you’ve never had to deal with that trauma in your life, except now you’re trying to write about it … so you’ll need to do some research.
Just like an illustrator who has to draw a fire truck needs to see the real thing – how does the hose connect to the truck? Where are the ladders stored? – they need references to show them the details so that the final illustration will be believable. It’s exactly the same if you are writing about experiences you’ve never had.
Find and interview someone who’s dealt with bullying or find stories or news articles about bullying. Listen to the facts with your head, but also listen between the lines with your heart. How did they feel, respond, or react? Imagine what it was like to be in their skin and experience what they went through.
Just like an artist can draw a believable fire truck when they have a clear picture of an actual fire truck, the stories writers write will be more believable – and interesting and fun to read – in direct proportion to how clearly the writer has imagined and lived the story in their own head.
This is truly what having a pony is all about for any creative … being able to visualize pictures and emotions in their head and heart. The clearer those mental images are, the clearer and better the art and the storytelling will be.