No, this isn't a post to try and get you to read more, although if you haven't read the Project Cat's Away series yet, young or old, you're gonna love it! Get started here.
There's a scene in Project Cat's Away: The Musical, that takes place in a library. Emma and her ex-best friend run into each other after their friendship has become estranged, and the girls have to decide if they should try to make up or just call it a day and head off in separate ways. They sing a song called "I Value You" about the safety you feel when you're with someone who knows you deeply and loves you, and it's also about the isolation that sets in when the right person does something so wrong that they break the trust you once felt.
I knew I wanted the tension between the girls to be physical and represent the inner turmoil they both felt, and what better way than with their interaction with the books that surrounded them.
I researched a little, looked online for visual inspiration and thought about it constantly, but ultimately, it wasn't until I grabbed several stacks of paperbacks (my personal library is 48% writing advice, 48% self-help/happiness psychology and 2% feminist graphic novels) from my overflowing shelves and actually pushed the books around on the desks and the floor that a real idea started to come together of what I wanted to do with the scene.
Imagining wasn't enough.
Researching wasn't enough.
Thinking wasn't enough.
I had to put the books in my hand.
Once I did that, I felt their weight, I realized how unwieldy they'd be, I instantly grasped how many books was enough and how many would be too many, I remembered - ooh, I meant to read that, I walked across the room and saw from a distance how visual my ideas would be, and most importantly, I easily figured out what would be reliably repeatable and what was simply too heavy or convoluted or complicated to keep in a show that had to be replicated seven times.
Could I have figured it out without experimenting? Sure. Probably. I'm as good at educated guessing as the next gal, but this was quicker and more effective. And my little experiment helped me make my decisions and freed up my brainpower to move on to the next thing.
Maybe with whatever you're working on, it's time to put some books in your hands!
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