I Think In Pictures


I recently discovered that the way my brain works may not be the same way that most people’s brains work.

I think in pictures. Words and phrases combine into full-color illustrations in my mind. I “see” a word before I ever smell, taste, hear or feel it. Perhaps that’s why I love to read. Perhaps that’s why I can read so fast.  After a minute, the text on the page blurs and all I see is the movie the words have built.

Pictures are so powerful. To anyone. To me they stick. They stick like a caramel apple during Halloween. But too often, the response that the image invokes is not so sweet.  For example, photos of graphic animal abuse haunt me.  They make me nauseous upon first viewing. And then they stay with me causing anxiety and nightmares because I can recreate the image in its entirety, in full detail, in full color.

But my imagination is often worse. I can conjure a picture that makes me sick with just a few choice words. Or something that makes my heart race. Or something that makes my chest swell. My face flush. I don’t need the photograph.

If I spell a word for someone out-loud, I can see the letters appear in my mind’s eye. Music conjures scenes of fiction from the novel I am writing or scenes from my past.

My past. I can remember things I would prefer not to remember in surround sound.

It makes me a good writer I think. No, I know. (I’ve been practicing these self-affirming statements.) I know it makes me a better writer. Readers want writers to paint books on the backs of their eyelids and I literally do so. Education has taught me how to paint better, with more subtle colors but the foundation is just that it’s the way my brain works.

I am curious if anyone else experiences this phenomena? Or is it even a phenomena at all?


One thought on “I Think In Pictures

  1. I don’t have this as extreme as you, but when I write, it does play like a movie in my head. I have a semi-photographic memory that really helped me in school. I still had to study my notes in order for it to work, but while taking the test, I could close my eyes and visualize my notes (especially if I used highlighting and different colors when I wrote them) and sort of “read” my notes as a picture in my head.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s