If you’re not familiar with the concept, a vision board — also known as a dream board — is a collage of images, drawings, photos, cuttings, written notes and messages, which work as an affirmation of your dreams and desires. They’re designed to serve as a source of inspiration and motivation — to help you achieve your goals and dreams.
You might not traditionally think of vision boards as a useful resource for writers. After all, how could a collage help a writer struggling with words?
But vision boards are actually a valuable resource for aspiring writers who want to think outside the box. Read on to discover how.
They help you articulate your thoughts and ideas
It might sound surprising, but for many writers, words can be limiting. Even the wildest imaginations can feel tethered by the constraints of language.
Of course, great writers always find a way around this, expressing depths through words. The best writers wield words confidently, speaking volumes with just a few sentences.
But reaching that point can be tricky. It takes years of reading and writing to use words in such a deliberate but effective way — and many of us still get stuck regularly when trying to get our words out.
Vision boards pave the way towards this point — particularly if you’re working on a big project like a novel. By using a collage of imagery to help you express ideas, you create a fecund environment for your brain to work through your thoughts.
You’re essentially helping your brain to naturally put imagery into words. Using a vision board like this empowers you to use words to their full extent by helping you conceptualise in your own mind what you want to say and, most importantly, why.
They let you visualise plot and overcome narrative blockages
As writers, I don’t need to tell you how difficult it can be to articulate ideas. Putting complex thoughts into words, and giving them the weight and meaning they’re due is a mammoth task.
Vision boards provide a medium for envisioning ideas. They help you visualise intricate plots and motifs.
Some writers prefer to write their plotlines out as a timeline, while others prefer reams of dense copy delving into the nitty-gritty.
But visual aids like vision boards let you ‘see’ your plot without the constraints of words. It lets you make new connections and ideate tangential plotlines with ease.
Why? Because ideation with words can be tricky — you’re imprisoned by the limitations of language. But visuals let you free-associate quickly and organically.
If you’re faced with a particularly troublesome plothole or stumped by your next narrative move, vision boards open mental doors for your brain to walk down.
They help you envision your future as a writer
Vision boards are used for a variety of purposes: weight loss inspiration, quitting smoking, and so on. They give people a vision of where they want to be — something to aspire to.
Similarly, vision boards can also give you direction and motivation towards where your aspirations take you as a writer. Beyond providing inspiration for your writing, vision boards also give you inspiration for where you want to go.
Include photos of your favourite authors, books, literary events — anything that, when you look at it, it reminds you why you’re a writer. You could even include photos of friends or family members who encourage you in your endeavours.
Look at this every day, just as one might look at a smoking cessation or weight loss mood board. Whether you’re struggling through writer’s block or just not writing your best stuff that day, this vision board will give you the drive you need to keep putting words to paper.
They provide a welcome relief from the grind
As writers, we spend much of our time grappling with the written word. Writing is a solitary activity and spending too much time cooped up in a room with your laptop or notebook in front of you takes its toll, even impacting your sleep.
I’ve already mentioned how beneficial vision boards are for your writing. They let you visualise your plot narrative, put into words what you might otherwise struggle with, and give you the motivation to keep at it during your toughest days.
But beyond helping us plan our stories or poems better, beyond helping us envision our success? Making a vision board is therapeutic.
Spending a few hours selecting photos or drawings, cutting and pasting them into something beautiful is a calming activity. It’s a creative task like painting or drawing, but more physical — like carpentry.
Creating a vision board takes you out of the world of words and into one of visuals. And while keeping your nose to the grindstone is an important part of being a writer, so too is giving yourself time away from the keyboard to let your mind focus on other tasks as well.
Vision boards might get a bad rap from some critics. But they’re actually a powerful resource that has genuine benefits for aspiring writers. Get inspired by the above and create a vision board that propels your writing career forward today.