We’ve all heard of visualization and the way that athletes use it to prepare to compete. Jack Nicklaus, the legendary golfer, often spoke of a technique he used in every game: Before every shot, he first visualized the ball’s perfect arc and landing, “sitting up there high and white and green.” According to Nicklaus, a successful shot was 50 percent visualization and 40 percent setup — only 10 percent flowed from actually hitting the ball.
I just read a book about Ted Williams, widely considered the best baseball hitter of all time, who used exactly the same approach. Even as a kid practicing out in his back yard at night by the light of the moon, he would imagine a smooth, fluid swing that connected with the baseball at just the right spot to give it lift and distance.
Are there simple ways to apply the art of visualization to our writing? Can we bring mental imaging to a writing session before we even begin? A few ideas to spark us:
We can close our eyes for a few moments and visualize ourselbes writing eagerly and smoothly, fully absorbed in a state of flow.
We can create a vision board that captures key images for a project we’re working on. I’ve created one of these for my children’s novel to insire and motivate me.
We can lay out an important scene with our characters in our mind, watching them as if they were on a movie screen – and then simply record what we’ve seen.
We can bring to mind a knotty plot or character problem right before we go to sleep and see if wake up with an image or idea that can unlock it for us.
Mental imaging is a powerful tool for gaining mastery, both on the page and off it. Let’s use it to our advantage. If you have any techniques that work for you, I’d love to hear about them as we all write on!
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