For many years I led creative writing workshops. Early on I noticed that some writing prompts tended to keep people entrenched in analytical thinking and their subsequent writing was heady and dry. These exercises often involved using a word or newspaper headline to write from. Their writing might have been slick and witty, but it was rarely deep or soulful, not moving the group emotionally.
But when I brought in images, it opened up a whole other space—images helped these writers access their depth. It was as if they didn’t need to find their words, they needed to find their image. Once they did, their writing was rich and often profound. I felt nurtured listening to it.
Images are the common, universal, native language among all cultures. Psychologist David Premack writes: “The original and basic unit of mental activity, which remains the psyche’s preferred way of operating, is the image.”