Some writers have different playlists of music they listen to for every book. They’ll set it up in advance, figure out which songs/music their characters listen to or relate to, and download songs and albums. (Of course, some of us have trouble getting Windows Media Player to come up… *sigh*) Some have set music they listen to when they’re writing—a favorite classical album, whatever. Others want silence when they are typing.
Writers often also happen to be very visual people. You’ll see mentions on author’s Facebook pages and Websites that they’ve posted pictures of actors or models who “play their characters” in their mind. Another inspirational thing that works for us is what I term “vision boarding” or collaging. I actually find them useful. You basically flip through magazines (or the web now), find pictures (or something) of what makes you think of your story, or your characters, and paste them down. Pinterest is becoming HUGE for this, as are some of the other photo-oriented sites.
I have one for my first book—photos of people who look like how I imagine my main characters. Photos of D.C., where most of the book takes place. A limo that plays a pivotal role. Computer stations. Labs, as my heroine is a scientist. There’s even a big house at the bottom that’s going to be their house when they get married.
The fascinating thing is that it doesn’t have to be exact, or even a photo. It can be something that evokes a feeling. Some writers are more tactile—I know one who actually builds mini-doll houses for her characters, so she knows the layout of the house they’re moving through and understands how the action flows. She tends to use things like fabric scraps rather than magazine photos to make her think of certain scenes/characters. Another author-friend just has scraps of fabric that remind her of the characters—whether it’s what they’re wearing, or just something that makes her think “sexy” or “comfortable”.
Whatever works, works…and it won’t be the same for everyone. The theory is, you’ll have the collage nearby so you can get into your story faster, or have visual clues to motivate you to think about it when doing other stuff. AND, when it’s time for cover art, you can send it to the art department to help them along.