Stimulate Creativity By Using Pictures: Why I Take Walks In Cemeteries

Just recently, I’ve decided to make room in my life for a little more fun. Specifically, I’ve been branching back into a life-long passion for writing stories. But getting myself into the right headspace has been a bit of a trick. I needed a way to stimulate creativity. To remedy my creative block, I’ve been perusing some of my old pictures to help my brain get back into the swing-of-things. The result? Taking walks in cemeteries.


Why am I using pictures to help me write?

Humans are visual creatures. For example, about 30% of our brain’s cortex is devoted to just processing visual information, as opposed to 8% for touch and 3% for hearing, according to Pictures resonate with us; they can stimulate senses, evoke emotions (remember my post where I talked about pictures giving you a feeling?), or get you thinking.

As writers, this serves us two-fold. First off, when we write we tend to think in pictures. In my case, visualizing full scenes helps me put words to what’s going on in the story — like my own personal storyboard.

Secondly, surrounding myself with specific pictures evoke certain moods. And since we can only write out of own personal experiences, feeling the mood you are trying to communicate helps keep it more genuine.

Using pictures to stimulate creativity is an old trick called picture prompting. And in my case, I tend to like things with just a touch of dark.


But, why cemeteries?

Does it sound morbid to say I enjoy cemeteries? So much so that visiting the Hólavallagarður Cemetery during our stay in Reyjakavic several years ago was high on my list of things-to-do. I’ve always loved walking through the rows of headstones, reading names and dates and connecting them together.

And quite frankly, I find cemeteries peaceful. They are often quiet, the grounds are well-groomed and visitors are respectful (hopefully). There’s something about all the stone, grass, dirt and flowers that is striking.

But I can’t deny the influence of many-a-story that raises the question: could they be spooky? It intrigues me enough to keep going back.


That being said, it doesn’t really matter what pictures you’re using, as your creativity is sparked.

Picture prompts are only one way to stimulate creativity. What things do you use to get in the right mood? Share in the comments!

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