Blind in Your Mind

Recently I ran across an article that discussed being “Blind in your Mind” here. 

It was fascinating to me to read it because I could relate to almost everything the writer said. In fact, several other writers I know said the same thing. Many of us don’t picture things in our heads, and it’s rather bizarre to us that other people do.

Now I want to be clear…I am not as “mind-blind’ as the writer of this article. I dream in color all the time and often can recall snatches of those dreams.  And I do, when I think about things I’ve seen in the past, sometimes get a split-second image in my head. It fades away so quickly that I don’t get any details out of it, like an afterimage instead of a true image.

I am far more likely to recall how something moved or words related to something I’ve seen.  I cannot close my eyes and picture anyone. Not even myself–like the Bible verse, I walk away from the mirror and forget what I look like.

This does not interfere, as the article specifies, with my ability to recognize people. I can recognize people’s faces both in real life and in photographs (as some other people cannot). But if I close my eyes and try to picture them, I only see blackness.

In fact, the harder I try, the less I get. If I’m trying, I won’t even get the split-second image that I mentioned before. I suspect that my ability to recall visual images is subconscious rather than conscious.

There is probably a continuum at work here, where some people are extreme, like the man in the article. And other people picture everything in their mind’s eye, rather like an internal movie.

Some authors who mentioned having a mind’s eye said they often struggle with descriptions because they can’t get the details right enough to match what they see. For my own part, I struggle with making sure I have enough description to get across the basics for the reader.

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One of the ways I deal with this is to use photographs of characters. I often keep those on bulletin boards so I can look at my characters as I’m writing them. That way I know what they look like.

Many of these photographs are from an old stash in tubs that I’ve been collecting since college…a long time ago. I’ve recently started using Pinterest to track my pictures as well. For example, here’s my set of photos that I’m using for The Horn. I can look at the pictures any time to remind myself who my characters are.  (Although I also print them out so I can access them when I’m not online.)

 

So if you’re a writer, do you have this issue? Do you see things in your mind or not? And if not, how do you learn to describe for the reader?

#SFWAPro

2 thoughts on “Blind in Your Mind

  1. No, in fact probably just the opposite – I am UTTERLY visual and sometimes what I write is just a transcript of the movie that’s playing on my inner mind screen. I can “see” music, although often not as the composer might have intended – for instance, my “inner visual” for the theme from Game of Thrones has absolutely nothing to do with the show and if I were capable of drawing what I see it would be an incredibly powerful visual scene. I “see” music in this way and in some sense that is why I love dramatic classical or movie soundtrack music – because it forms a backdrop to my own inner vision. THe music from “Dragonheart” for instance, was what made me go out straight after I saw the movie and try to buy it – and I could only get it on CD – so I got the CD, and tehn i got a CD player, which I had hitherto not owned, in order to be able to listen to it. I dream vividly and in sensurround (ALL the senses feature) but I dream in vivid visual detail. Just the other night I dreamt of a field which was – I don’t knw – some sort of pale grass, and you could see dark lines where a vehicle of an exploratory team (of which I was one of, in the dream) drove through the grass leaving a trail. Off to the side of this was quite a differently textured area, which looked rather more like stacked broccoli with the florets up and it was (in the dream) a wetland, a marsh, which my dreamself promptly christened the Broccoli Bog – and in the dream I wanted to go out into that silvergrass field myself but was cautioned against it – and I went anyway – and the reason I was cautioned was that it was late and the light was failing and hte light DID fail, very swiftly and suddenly and with no warning, and it was pitch black, and I had no way of knowing where the base camp was, and I knew that if I blundered into the Broccoli Bog I was dead meat – but if I coud find it and skirt its edge I could use it to guide me home… and all of this was an entirely visually rendered thing, a mini-movie in my head. If I were to write the story I would SEE it all in my mind.

    Am I just weird…?🙂

    • It seemed to me like most of the writers were one extreme or the other, so I don’t think you’re weird!

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