When I was about fifteen, or maybe ten, I realized that my stories were made up entirely of lists. I had passive characters who wandered through life making lists of what they would do if they weren't passive wimps. Grocery lists, runaway lists, name lists, dream lists.
Actually I think it must have been closer to ten. So I fixed it. I stopped making lists, and started actually having my characters do something. Anything. It was an uphill battle. Then a few years later (I'd conquered my mountain of lists) I realized something else.
All my stories were description. Descriptions of places, descriptions of people and things and descriptions of what my characters should be doing but weren't. I had mastered the art of description to the point where my stories were nothing else.
At that point, I made a mistake. In hindsight I can call it a mistake, but at the time I was simply correcting the problem I found. I was writing too much description, therefore I should write less description.
At that point, my process of writing was much like a movie. The story flowed past my mind's eye and I wrote down what I saw. That being the case, the best way to use less description was to stop visualizing, right?
So I practiced until the words flowed from my fingers to the page without once passing through a visual check. To the point that I stopped seeing the real world. To the point that now, my characters have been described as "placeholders in a shadow world" and I need to do a complete description edit before I even think of publishing. Even at that, most of my readers want more description than I'm giving them.
It occurred to me last week that I need to learn to visualize again. When I was doing the description edit of Without A Voice I struggled to visualize so I could get the details right. I think it worked, but then I dropped the idea. I never internalized it.
If I can visualize what's happening while I write, I might eventually be able to bypass the description edit completely. At this point it's a line by line fight, and one of the hardest edits. The emotion edit is the other, but that's a blog post for another time.
It's an uphill battle, but I'm determined to win.