I’ve created a lot of illustrations for the Other Side of Gold. Currently, I have about thirty drawings in various stages of completion. I didn’t really have an interest in creating an illustrated tale, nor was I attempting any sort of graphic novel. So why, then, have I spent so many hours drawing?
The answer lies in the simple fact that it is very difficult for me (and I imagine for you as well) to sit with my eyes closed and think about one topic for several hours. If I try to contemplate the story, my mind tends to wander after a minute or less, to other, more mundane topics. I start making grocery lists in my head, or I plan out how I will pay my bills. Whatever the thoughts, they consume what I wanted to consider.
Drawing helps me focus on my narrative for hours at a time. While illustrating a scene, I will naturally fall into a pattern of considering how that scene plays into the overall story. I will come up with countless details that I would never have invented otherwise. I discover ways of trying plot lines and characters together. I perform all those mental gymnastics that I could not while sitting on my couch and thinking.
You might not be a visual artist, but I’d still recommend finding some activity (not writing) that allows you to contemplate your story for long periods of time. When you’re writing, you get caught up in the words. When you’re doing something related, you can consider just the story.