Sunday, December 2, 2012

Writing With Your Eyes Closed Takes A Good Memory

I must confess I was feeling pretty lazy today. But, it's hard to feel lazy when you have a story in your head. I'm an expert at it, though.

Part of my problem today is that I'm struggling with a cold. I'm a major wimp when I'm sick. All I want to do is get under the covers and do nothing. I can't just lie there, though. I must create. So, I run through scenes in my mind with my eyes closed.

Maybe you're brain doesn't work that way, but I've been able to develop a skill of working out my next scene with my eyes closed. This only works if you can remember what you've done during such a session. I've learned enough about memory to understand that I must create a well-worn path so that I can remember my scene. 

If you're interested in terminology, what I'm talking about is a neural trace. I teach this to my freshmen students. Bottom line, it takes repetition. How's it work with my scene development? Like this:

In my mind's eye I create the scene I'm working on. I place my characters where they need to be. I construct the setting and then press play like I'm watching a DVD. I only go so far. I keep it to one scene. No scene changes. 

Everyone has their moments of dialogue. I throw in some narration, etc. Then, I press replay. I run through the entire scene again. Then, I press replay again and again and again and again. I may fall asleep pressing replay, but when I wake, I have the scene still in my head because I've developed a neural trace to come back to by repetition.

Over a week of being lazy, I might run through the same scene dozens of times. When I see something new to add, I do it. Eventually, I must write this down, but this mental skill has helped me keep working on a story when, for example, I'm lazy or sick and just don't want to sit at the keyboard.

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