Log in

No account? Create an account
24 October 2011 @ 11:54 am
It has recently come to my attention that not everyone visualises.

I was hanging out with a new friend and talking about fanfic (as I do), and he asked, "So, you visualise then?" I said, "Yes, I do a rather lot of that. I enjoy it." He lamented that he couldn't visualise, hard as he tried.

Do you visualise?

If you're reading something, do the scenes play out in your mind? When you're writing, are you writing from scenes you're clearly seeing/hearing/experiencing up in your brain?

If I say 'autumn evening, crunching leaves, air on skin, candlelight flickering in carved pumpkin, smell of a carnival, taste of toffee apple', do you enter a place in your mind where you are there? (I know not all of that is pure visualising, but I'm curious about that, too.)

I used to wonder, when I was a child, why some peers got so bored during the guided imagery exercises we sometimes did during class; I always thought they were wonderful exercises for my brain, like being told to stop doing school stuff just to daydream for credit, which I would have been doing anyway. If they weren't visualising anything or very much at all, I can completely understand why they were bored.

(I think it's one of the reasons I read slower than people expect of a 'voracious reader' [during the days I can actually call myself that]: I like to take my time to really get into every scene, look away from the pages occasionally to admire the pictures and thoughts forming in my brain. I can speed-read, but I find it takes away from my general reading experience, especially when reading any kind of fiction.)

So! If you'd like to talk about visualising, let it fly here! :D
Current Mood: curiousCurious.
?elsceetaria on October 24th, 2011 04:45 pm (UTC)
I visualize. My sense of other senses than sight isn't as strong usually with smell being nearly nonexistent (instead of smelling things I tend to envision a state of being that I associate with that scent).
Kiwi Crocus: Seasonal || Lit pumpkins.cranky__crocus on October 24th, 2011 05:21 pm (UTC)
I don't think my other senses are as strong as sight when I'm visualising, but... I don't know, it's hard to think about/explain. If I told someone what I was imagining and (s)he asked, "Do you smell pumpkin right now?" I would have to say no, but I would have a sensation of pumpkin...like the memory of the scent. It's strange.

I'm intrigued by the idea of envisioning a state of being that you associate with a scent! It makes sense, really, since scent is a sense so linked with memory/feeling.

I love learning about how others experience the world.
Shivshiv5468 on October 24th, 2011 05:17 pm (UTC)
I don't.

It's one of the weaknesses with my writing. I can hear people, but I don't see them.

I went to art classes to exercise the seeing muscles but words / speech remain my primary relationship to a character, and not their appearance.

Kiwi Crocus: Shoes || Blue laced.cranky__crocus on October 24th, 2011 05:25 pm (UTC)
You know, now that I think on it, I recall that I have another writer friend in another fandom that always said she couldn't see the characters, only hear them. I've always loved her work for the dialogue she can produce and the knack she has for characters' voices; she used to read mine to read the scenes and the small details in the characters' actions and senses. I had always said that we should work together to collaborate on a masterpiece of the senses, but it never struck me 'oh, if she doesn't see the characters, that must means not everyone visualises!'

I think it's all very interesting. I'd love to know what it felt like to have words/speech be the primary relationship to a character.

That also illuminates one (of the many) reasons I love reading your writing! It provides a new experience for me as a reader. I love that!

Thanks for sharing! :D
(no subject) - shiv5468 on October 24th, 2011 05:46 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - featherxquill on October 25th, 2011 11:23 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shiv5468 on October 25th, 2011 01:27 pm (UTC) (Expand)
therealsnape: txt Get out of my mind ...therealsnape on October 24th, 2011 05:54 pm (UTC)
Now, there's an interesting question. I would have described myself as a visualiser - in fact, Tetley, Kelly, and I have in-jokes on visualising. The other two Musketeers will tell you that I'm a dreadful visualiser, who got them into the habit, corrupting their innocent minds forever.


Once I'd taken Kelly through every step of visualising 'f*** you' as opposed to 'sod you', she was corrupted for life. We soon got Tetley corrupted converted, too.

But in my writing, I'm like Shiv. I only hear my characters, I don't see them. Descriptions are always my weakness, and I'd really prefer to write plays all the time and just hire Maggie, Judi, and Alan and tell them to get on with showing you things.

So I guess that writing-wise and reading-wise, I'm not a visualiser at all.

If it's possible to out oneself as a non-visualiser, consider this my coming-out post.

And now I feel like running and hiding from my (previously) fellow-visualisers. Can one closet oneself? I don't need a whole cupboard-under-the-stairs, a decent clothes closet will do. Or a shoe closet. Arguably more fun. As long as one can still sit comfortably.
Kiwi Crocus: Shoes || Back lace-up.cranky__crocus on October 24th, 2011 06:03 pm (UTC)
Ah, I see what you mean with that sort of visualisation! I have great fun with that one. Have you ever heard people use the phrase "big ass" or "big arse" as a descriptor? It's usually used with something like, "That is one big-arse car." I change the place of the hyphen to sit between 'arse' and what it's describing, so it would become something like, "That is one big arse-car" and suddenly I'm visualising something very different. It makes me giggle every time.

What were the steps to visualising "f*** you" as opposed to "sod you", just so I'm clear? (;

I can't say I would mind at all if you wrote plays and got Maggie, Judi and Alan into the mix so we could all experience the genius that occurs.

I'm sure that your not visualising during writing and reading doesn't mean you're not a visualiser; it must just depend on the situation for you. That makes perfect sense to me.

(And remember, dear, you can always spell your closet to be bigger on the inside--so don't worry about the size, provided you can get through whatever door is available!)
(no subject) - therealsnape on October 24th, 2011 07:04 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
Kiwi Crocus: Readwrite || Candlelight reading.cranky__crocus on October 24th, 2011 06:06 pm (UTC)
...there's often a moment of re-orientation and figuring out what's going on outside of the book.
Happens to me all the time. My friends used to make jokes that just because I was in the room reading (or even daydreaming) didn't mean that I was on the planet. It often takes a lot of reeling to get me back.

You're totally not a weirdo for looking away from the pages! Actually, I discovered recently that the reason people say not to read in low light is for eye-strain (which doesn't actually affect the eyes long-term, just may give a bit of a tight feeling or temporary headache); the cure to that is looking away from the pages every once in a while and focusing on something else, or not focusing the eyes at all. So with our reading style, it isn't a problem to read in lower light--we give our eyes a break and they thank us for it.

So you're certainly not doing anything weird! :D
Venturous1venturous1 on October 24th, 2011 06:16 pm (UTC)
while I consider myself a 'visual person' I dont 'see' my literary visualizations as much as feel them. I think that's why written porn is so, er, effective. I dont worry or judge my mental imaging/sensing, I'm able to plunge into it and get into that lovely alpha state. It's always made reading fiction indespensible, a necessary practise.

when I'm in a listening role, or planning a drawing, I will tend to 'see' more. In those cases I feel the Muse/God/Intuition is feeding me information in moving pictures.
Kiwi Crocus: Alex || Laughing.cranky__crocus on October 26th, 2011 12:57 am (UTC)
You know, I never thought about why erotica is so effective for me while visual stimulants haven't been--I think I have a degree of the 'feeling' to my reading as well, though never thought of it, as I hadn't seen it mentioned before.

Thank you for your input!
yours truly: misc: architectureonebrightmoment on October 24th, 2011 06:41 pm (UTC)
oh yes, I definitely do that. I'm not much of a writer, so IDK how that affects that process, but when reading I do it.

I do another thing quite similar while reading that I've always wondered if others do- I tend to edit cinematically. er, let me try to explain. after reading a passage of dialogue for example, I will quickly condense and edit it down to something that's both filmable and faithful to the spirit of the dialogue. when starting a novel or even a story I imagine the best point at which the title rolls, etc. I see the montages in my head, and the action scenes, etc - which is, of course visualizing, but I see it in terms of film angles and certain sequences.

it's a terribly bad habit that can sometimes ruin my reading "flow" and I have to take a break just to stop myself. it's quite a subconscious action. I'm sure it has a bit to do with me being a bit obsessed with screenwriting. but still. annoying, as I can't seem to break myself of it- even when reading nonfiction.
Kiwi Crocus: Nature || Pink tree contrast.cranky__crocus on October 26th, 2011 12:58 am (UTC)
Oh, wow, I'd never heard of that! That's certainly a very interesting way of reading; I'm sorry to hear that it also aggravates and distracts you. I can see why it would happen given your obsession with screenwriting--it seems a bit of a useful tool there, at least. (:
"Q" is for "quor": fantasyq_sama on October 24th, 2011 07:24 pm (UTC)
My visualizing when writing is so extreme that I refer to the writing process as "translating". There are rarely any words in the scene I see in my head - just emotions and expressions that I have to turn into words that can affect my reader as much as it affects me. It's... frustrating, since I'm *not* a word-smith.

You are most definitely not alone. :)
Kiwi Crocus: Seasonal || Black cat pumpkin.cranky__crocus on October 26th, 2011 01:00 am (UTC)
"Translating" for writing--yes, I can certainly understand that sometimes! I love the way you talk about writing. Now I can't wait 'til the next time I get to read your words and bring to mind the images!
A completely happy writer: Funny Fall Leaveslar_laughs on October 24th, 2011 08:47 pm (UTC)
Oh, how sad! I have run into quite a few people that aren't able to visualize and it always makes me pity them. I think I'd rather be without SIGHT than to not be able to visualize things in my mind. Like your list! I got the best images from just a few simple words and they made me happy.

Does he dream? My mother doesn't dream. I wonder if the two are linked somehow?
Kiwi Crocus: Women || Maggie Smith || ♥cranky__crocus on October 26th, 2011 01:02 am (UTC)
I'm not sure I pity anyone who can't visualise, as it means they must experience the world in a different way from the way I do, and I'm sure it's just as good--as well as endlessly fascinating to me!

I'm not sure if the friend dreams; I actually only just met him that day. He's my good friend's new partner.
Rosa | ¯\(ºдಠ)/¯: wit beyond measurerosaxx50 on October 24th, 2011 09:18 pm (UTC)
Before I began writing as a hobby, I didn't visualise at all. If I remembered anything from a book, it was the literal words on the page. Now, I... selectively visualise, if that's possible. Generally, if the scene has a great deal of interaction between characters, I'm more focused on what they're saying and I have to go back and think again about what they're actually doing while saying said things.

On the other hand, when I'm bored with writing conversations and/or just want to do stuff without speaking, describing the scene and trying to make emotions = something tangible in the five senses. Plus, when I'm stuck I tend to revert to that as well.
Kiwi Crocus: Nature || Awkward giraffe.cranky__crocus on October 26th, 2011 01:06 am (UTC)
I can completely understand all that, too. While I tend to see every scene that I'm writing, sometimes if my conversations aren't working/I'm bored with writing them/I want to do something else/I can't think of what to write, I'll just start describing a scene and the senses. It seems a good enough technique to me for being stuck!
(Deleted comment)
Kiwi Crocus: Rainbow || I heart rainbow.cranky__crocus on October 26th, 2011 01:08 am (UTC)
Well, I've never found the description in your writing to be at all lacking, if that means anything. (: I have to wonder what it's like to have words and word patterns floating around without pictures! It's all endlessly fascinating to me.
Kitty Ryankitty_ryan on October 25th, 2011 12:50 am (UTC)
Hahaha! Loaded question.

The short answer is: nope! I do not visualise. I don't even dream in images. Never have. I'm not sure if it's the becoming-progressively-more-blind business, or if it's cerebral palsy playing silly buggers with my spatial awareness (you should see me with a map!), or just a random quirk, but ask me to call up a picture, and I'll give you a soundscape. My brain is full of the sounds, smells, and tastes of things, or how they might feel in my hands. It's like I extrapolate what something looks like though all the other bits.

The bit where I start to sound utterly insane comes here. I don't nessecarily SEE colours, particularly when I write, but I...hear or taste them. Literally. Tardis blue is an e-flat major chord. My girlfriend usually resonates as d-major/carol of the bells and, somehow, yellow. You, unsurprisingly, are a bright scattering of colours and sounds that, often, manifest in my weird head as the taste of nasturtium and mint, and also pink peppercorns straight from the tree.

No, I don't really understand it.
Kiwi Crocus: Rainbow || Threads.cranky__crocus on October 26th, 2011 01:14 am (UTC)
Not dreaming in images? Wow! I have to wonder how that goes. But I always appreciate getting a soundscape; I think it's one of the reasons I love your writing so much.

It's like I extrapolate what something looks like though all the other bits.
That in itself is fascinating. I can't think of a sense that I don't really use--perhaps taste. I'm not huge on taste, at least for distinguishing things; but on the other hand I am a big fan of smell, which is often quite similar.

I don't think you sound utterly insane at all. I've always been interested in synesthesia and similar concepts.

I must say I'm delighted to hear about my colouration (yay rainbow-like colouring!) and sound/taste. I'm not actually that familiar with nasturtium--is that a peppery taste/scent? (Mint I love.) Pink peppercorns I also haven't come across, although now of course I'm excited to get to know them some day. (:

I think that's one of the coolest things in the world. My brain is dreadfully tame next to yours!
Nicki: writingperoxidepirate on October 25th, 2011 02:53 am (UTC)
I visualize a lot of detail in scenes going on inside my head, whether daydreams or stories I'm writing or books I'm reading. I visualize most clearly when I'm listening to audio books, and once or twice I've read a paper book where the words inspired such intense imagery that I had to start reading aloud because it was too real not to.
Kiwi Crocus: Rainbow || Letting the hair down.cranky__crocus on October 26th, 2011 01:16 am (UTC)
I haven't done audio books very much, but I'll have to give that a try at some point. I do often read stories aloud, though--it's one of my favourite things to do.
Feather Quill: Quill/writingfeatherxquill on October 25th, 2011 11:21 am (UTC)
Oh yes, I am very visual. I always have a very definite picture of what a character, say, looks like in my head. And the spaces in my stories are very much spaces I can see. When writing something like RP, I have been known to sort of sketch out a floor plan of the home my character lives in, just so that the spaces in my head stay concrete. If ever I'm reading and not paying enough attention and the picture gets away from me, I have to go back and reread the part I sort of missed so that I can continue to visualise the scene.

It's something that's also very important to me when writing porn. Even if I'm not writing down every moment of which hand is where and what legs are doing etc etc, I have to know all of that in my head, because if I don't, I can't visualise it, and I can't write it.

It's why I also found art class both fun and vexing, and why I call my drawing talent mediocre, even though, like recently, people saw the drawing I did and were like 'that is awesome, you are not mediocre' (though of course I think that's often politeness as well). But that's not something I say because I'm like, fishing for compliments or whatever, it's something I say because I can always see amazing images in my head, but I absolutely cannot capture them in a drawing. At all. I can put things together - I'm a pretty kickass collage-maker, for example, but when it comes to putting the images in my head down on paper, I am far, far better with words.
Kiwi Crocus: Alex || Grinning.cranky__crocus on October 26th, 2011 01:20 am (UTC)
I'm not sure I understand what you mean when you say that the 'spaces in [your] stories are very much spaces [you] can see'? I've definitely sketched out floorplans before, even when writing for something other than RP--especially when most stories written about some characters occur in the same setting.

I have the same thing with writing porn. I think one issue I used to have was that I felt the need to put EVERY action into words; then I started realising that I wanted readers to form their own scene based on the sequence of actions I give. Less connect-the-dots and more fill-in-the-blanks.

I completely understand you on the drawing thing. It's why I consider myself mediocre (and occasionally crap)--because everything pales in comparison with what I had in mind for it. Then, I don't consider myself much of a writer for that same thing, really.

Sometimes I think I should just go live in my head instead of trying to get what's in it out!
(no subject) - featherxquill on October 27th, 2011 02:59 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shiv5468 on October 26th, 2011 11:08 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - featherxquill on October 27th, 2011 03:09 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shiv5468 on October 27th, 2011 07:20 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Seekcoldthermistor on October 26th, 2011 07:46 am (UTC)
Nope, I don't, TBH. I can't think in pictures. When you say "autumn evening, crunching leaves, air on skin, candlelight flickering in carved pumpkin, smell of a carnival, taste of toffee apple", I think of a cool evening, but there's a warm happy feeling to it. But it's abstract. :S

I always did hate visualisation...I'm just terrible at it, for that reason :P
Kiwi Crocus: HP || Luna || The lion eagle.cranky__crocus on October 26th, 2011 03:00 pm (UTC)
I like your abstract thought! I'm fascinated by how the same words can affect people differently; surely that's what makes us all unique and wonderful. A cool evening with a warm happy feeling to it...that sounds wonderful!

This post certainly has explained to me why I've always loved guided imagery activities but a good number of my friends haven't.
President Airlock: Jazzhandsqueen_of_snapes on October 26th, 2011 11:24 am (UTC)
I'm a massive visualiser. I'm constantly playing out all kinds of scenarios in my head, but when I actually sit down and try to write about what I see in my head, I never do it justice. It makes me very sad...
Kiwi Crocus: HP || Sibyl || Hug everyone else.cranky__crocus on October 26th, 2011 03:01 pm (UTC)
Oh, my, I completely know how that goes; that's how I feel every time I write. I never fully capture the story that has played out in my head and it annoys me...then makes me sad.

But at least it's fun to daydream about it once I'm done writing! :B
(no subject) - queen_of_snapes on October 27th, 2011 04:11 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - cranky__crocus on October 27th, 2011 04:13 pm (UTC) (Expand)