Joys & Pitfalls of Visual Acuity ~ Outside the Margins with Posy Roberts

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I’m a visual person, and for the most part, it’s a gift I’m grateful for.

On more than one occasion, an awful day has been transformed to amazing by simply witnessing something lovely like a fiery sunset. I wrote the North Star trilogy after envisioning a devastating, life-altering loss. Silver Scars came to life after a nightmare I had of unlocking my front door and a bomb going off. And Cheeky Hipsters & Jocks came to be after I spent a bit of time (okay a few hours) perusing several men’s underwear sites.

As a visual organizer, I do best when I see things laid out before me. I love lists and apps where I can check things off or put them in the Done pile. Lately I’ve used the app Trello for that, and I get a great sense of relief when I move a task to the Done board.

I’ve utilized outlines and beat sheets and timelines to help me plan out stories. And revise stories. And completely rework stories. I love the writing program Scrivener because it is a visual program with virtual notecards, bulletin boards, and allows you to insert images into a notes section.

And when I find words don’t come as easily, I close my eyes and start typing. This has helped me over the hump of writer’s block numerous times. Thank God for the bumps on the F and J keys. (Did you know they’re are called nipples?)

I use glass “whiteboards” to list character traits, archetypes, elements, signs, strengths/weaknesses, and more and then stick them next to an image of the person I’m writing about. I drew a map of how the commune is laid out in the Naked Organics series and referred to that often as I wrote. Pinterest is a tool I’ve used to gather images of inspiration as well as to keep research together so if I need to recall if the farmers market at Portland State was in a shady or a sunny location, I can easily go back. I use all of those tools when my fingers get flying over the keyboard.

When I write, I see what I’m writing and try to find the best words to portray that. I don’t always succeed, but I do my best. Over the years, I’ve been blessed to hear from readers sharing how they felt sucked into the spaces I wrote about, as if they were there, living the experiences of the characters. Best compliment ever. 🙂

So, yes, there are fantastic things about being visual.

But it’s not all roses.

On my story corkboard, I’ve had a cul-de-sac up pinned up for over a year with everyone who lives there represented by photos taped to clipart houses. Some day I’ll get to that story. In the meantime, it reminds me that I haven’t. It looms. Like the form sitting on my kitchen counter that needs to be filled in and mailed back or the check that needs to be cashed and the shirt that’s been hanging on the door that needs a button replaced.

Like the form sitting on my kitchen counter that needs to be filled in and mailed back or the check that needs to be cashed and the shirt that’s been hanging on the door for the last several months that only needs a button replaced.

In between editing jobs and helping my kid with either algebra or the social drama that is high school, I’ve put everything off that I could because life has been dominated by getting ready for GayRomLit. And piles and piles of stuff in strategic spots around my house.

Currently, my kitchen table is filled with all the swag and gift baskets I’m bringing to GRL. I don’t want to forget anything, and since I’m driving down, I can bring a lot more than if I were flying. There is some swag I still need to finish making, and I keep tripping over a box of books the UPS guy delivered the other day. Maybe I should move those to a chair.

My husband is looking forward to me going to GRL so he can eat at the table again. Thankfully he gets the visual organization thing, but more than a few arguments have broken out because he moved an important paper into a meaningless pile right before company came over, and when I needed it, I couldn’t find it.

But I wouldn’t trade this gift (flaw?) for anything. It allows me to live inside other peoples’ heads and see the world through their eyes so I can get words on the page. It makes cheering me up after a hard day fairly easy: let me watch the sun set. Bliss. 🙂

I’d love to hear about your joys and the pitfalls you’ve run up against with visual organizing. What’s the best part? What’s the worst? And what to the people you live or work with think of your organizational habits?

~Posy Roberts

About Posy Roberts

Posy Roberts writes about romantic male love. Whether her characters are family men, drag queens, or lonely men searching for connections, they all find a home in her stories.

Posy is married to a man who makes sure she doesn’t forget to eat or sleep; her daughter, a budding author and dedicated Whovian, helps her come up with character names. When Posy’s not writing, she enjoys crafting, hiking, and singing spontaneously about the mundane, just to make normal seem more interesting.

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4 thoughts on “Joys & Pitfalls of Visual Acuity ~ Outside the Margins with Posy Roberts

  1. Notebooks…
    Journals of every kind…
    I adore the people who invented colored tabs and sticky notes…
    (Before that it was white out!)

    The ‘notes’ on my iPhone and iPad…
    The Documents app on my iPad

    I’m going to look into the writing program Scrivener, sounds intriguing.

    I’d do the same with the diagram for the commune. I’ve even done it for children when we’ve read a book together to help them picture the flow of a story.

    Loved ‘Naked Organics’ so it definitely worked!

    • Journals… I love them so. If I like one, I buy it, despite having a small pile at home. I love the Reminders and Notes app on my phone and ipad. The Notes one has saved me many a time because it is linked between all my devices.

      I love the idea about drawing out a books as you read. I might use that with my daughter to help her get through some of the tougher, boring reads she has now in high school.

      And I’m thrilled you loved Naked Organics. 🙂 Thanks!

  2. oh… and when I’m researching our family tree I can’t do it without a diagram… especially since my great grandparents had 12 children (3 daughters who married 3 brothers!)

    • Definitely! When I was a family therapist, I even used that as I learned about the family set up and dynamics. It was a snapshot to remind that Suzie had a contentious relationship with her second brother and so on.

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