When I was a kid, as a way to fall asleep at night, I would picture elaborate “day dreams” in my head. I was always the main character. When I was a teen, these mostly involved imagining how my latest crush would realize his love for me and we would be together. Eventually, I would get to a boring spot and I’d fall asleep.
But, sometimes, if my imagination brought me to somewhere emotional or with a lot of tension or suspense, it would keep me up half the night.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was actually training my brain to write fictional stories. So when I started to write my first novel, I already knew how to imagine the story – the trick was translating it into words on paper. To keep people reading, I just had to imagine the types of things that kept me up at night. And if I find myself getting sleepy, I know the story is going stale.
Now, when I work on my novels, I do the exact same thing but with a keyboard in front of me. I imagine the story in as much detail as possible, right down to the words used in conversation, and I type it.
If you write stories, you may already do this as well, whether you realize it or not. But, if you haven’t and you find yourself stuck, give it a try. Just write down what you see in your imagination.