Friday, May 27, 2022

Writing with Aphantasia

This is a representation of my mind's eye: Shadows, light, static

While the term "Aphantasia" is relatively new to the scientific scene, I've had it my whole life. My mind is absolutely unable to picture anything when I'm awake. (Interestingly enough, I believe I have visual dreams - I experience them that way during the dreaming, but can't capture the visual memories of those dreams upon waking.)

There are those who believe imagination is dependent on visualization. To those people, I say not so much. (See also: 8 novels, dozens of short stories, hundreds of poems I have written.)

I create from a place of emotion and kinesthetic sensation. I *feel* what my characters are feeling, both physically and emotionally. Which is likely why I write in deep point of view - either first person or more commonly third, and never in omniscient. 

So many of my fellow writers talk about writing down the movie playing in their head and that just sounds so strange to me! For the longest time (most of my life, actually), I thought this was a metaphor. When I discovered that some people (maybe most?) actually *do* see what they imagine, I was stunned. To me, that felt like walking around with hallucinations playing in the background. 

So, back to my writing. 

I'm at the climax of the multiverse novel I've been working on for the past few years. And on a good writing day, I can get about 500 words in - a small part of a scene - and no more. It's not that I don't know what happens next, but rather what's happening is so intense, I can't work for more than a short time without needing to step away.

When I say I inhabit the character, it's very much a physiologic thing. I'm betting if you wired me up to biofeedback and tested my cortisol levels, heart rate, blood pressure, etc,  you'd believe that I was under intense stress during those writing sessions. 

That's what writing the characters from the inside is like. 

That's what writing with aphantasia is like for me.

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1 comment:

  1. If I had unlimited freedom, money, and time to study, I'd want to learn more about how the brain works. The wiring thing is so interesting to me. Like, my husband and daughter cannot understand how it's possible for me to function without maps in my head. I've tried to explain to them that I visualize intersections and landmarks in order to navigate and they just look at me in complete disbelief. It's amazing to me that some of the smartest people I know struggle to read. Most of them can engineer parts or machines as needed, though.

    However it happens in your head, the result of your writing is excellent stories!