I work in many mediums, and when I can’t think of the words to write, I draw or paint. When we find our creative flow stymied, changing the medium can help unclog ideas. The creative act doesn’t have to be something we make ourselves either. We can get a similar jumpstart by listening to music or watching a movie. These activities redirect our thinking around the creative obstacles in our brains.
Think of it as strength training for the mind. When we go to the gym, we don’t just work on one muscle. If we did, that muscle would tire out and strain. Instead, we exercise a group of muscles to keep us balanced and in shape. Focusing on one area of the brain, all the time has the same effect. We tire it out and lose the ability to produce quality results. Sometimes shifting gears is all it takes to get us back on track.
Lately, I’ve spent an enormous amount of time writing. I create blog posts and marketing material for my shop, but I’m also working on various books. Focusing on writing so many things at once wears me out, and I eventually need a break. I’ve written before about creating covers for works in progress. The cover illustrating has been beneficial to me in times of creative writing cloudiness. I use the covers as placeholders on this site, but they also allow me to look at my work from a different perspective.
I am currently editing my young adult paranormal romance, Menagerie Mind, and I struggle with whether to change some small aspects. Is this scene working for me? Does the character’s emotion come through in my writing? Should I cut this part altogether?
After a long day of writing, I finally broke down and chose to create a cover. It gave me some time to consider the book’s theme and how I wanted to pitch it visually. It’s not a final cover, but it helps me organize my thoughts.
My main character, 16-year-old Ferne Tippet, earned top grades and popularity in school until a stroke brakes her brain and fractured her speech. She desperately struggles to fit in, keep her boyfriend, and keep up with her classes. Her best friend Benny sticks by her side and wants to admit his feelings for her, but a mysterious mental connection with animals gives her a chance to speak normally. Making some new furry and feathered friends is just the opportunity she needs to give her purpose, but it attracts too much attention and brings on headaches. Now she needs to keep others from finding out about her new gift while not having another mental breakdown.
I kept the cover simple. The silhouetted image plays on the idea that we don’t really know someone by simply looking at them. Ferne doesn’t look like she has a disability, but her aphasia has changed her life. I wanted to show a visualization of the animal telepathy my protagonist uses and a longing for love. Each animal in the illustration is one Ferne has a conversation with. I also modified the image of the brain to resemble a speech bubble. I gave the butterfly flitting out of reach heart-shaped wings to represent the love interests in her life. All in all, I think the illustration captures my impression of the book.
Once I finished the cover, I was able to go back to my writing and visualize the plot with more clarity. I still have lots to edit, but my little side-work helped me with my writing. I also have the benefit of practicing my illustration skills with my creative covers. Who knows? Maybe one of my covers will be the final version sitting on a bookstore shelf.