Having worked for years with architects, I watched their processes of conceptualizing, of brainstorming. Storyboards, thumbnail sketches, schematics, & white board pyrotechnics abounded! The process always appealed to me as relevant to writing, but only in the last 6 months have I applied the use of visuals.
Here is the most basic template I use, and the one I use most often, either on a single page or spread across an open layout. The "I" is where I place my images; the other blocks are used for writing, to connect each image to the next.
The reason I favor this template is because I also incorporate another writing tool with it: the images are RANDOMLY SELECTED. I have a magazine on my desk; I close my eyes; I open the magazine; I must use an image from that page, even if it's all text. NO bartering. NO cheating. Each image is added this way. Once all the images are laid down, the writing challenge is to connect them, to each other and to something I have on my mind, either personally or creatively. I imagine there would be great power in selecting the images deliberately, also -- if you are avoiding dealing with something, images specific to that topic would be a foot up your written and psyche behind toward contemplating them, interacting with them and the subject matter.
Sample Above. [Editor's Note: Beware, this is a rant!]
Another favorite, which I use as you see it marked here, or in reverse (put the images in the opposite spaces).
Because I love triangle and diamond shapes, this template tends to be one I use to draw up my poet! When you play with templates for yourself, you'll very quickly figure out the ones you most respond to, and for what applications or purposes.
Above is a new template for me. I don't normally use circles, but I know many people love and use mandalas, and last night I experimented with this template, creating a sort of visual/written mandala. [I added the circle image last, as it helped hide some messy corners where the other images went down (hee!)]
This Storyboard technique is all about using imagery to lift writing from myself, to explore my own depths, and often to stimulate creative ideas or to brainstorm a problem. The images can be anything: blocks of color or favorite papers, not necessarily a picture of 'something'. Since I do storyboarding in my written journal, I don't paint or prep the background in any way first: I want to be able to read the writing!! But you surely can.
I explore anything! everything!, this way, but find I most utilize this tool when I'm experiencing any kind of block or reluctance with the writing. The visuals help me relax, provide a starting point.
As you play around with this technique, keep in mind that the more complicated your template is, the less room you have for writing, and the more tedious it can become to fit your images to the assigned areas. I lay my magazine or image pages over those spaces and just use a ruler to rip them; get one edge aligned and it's easy to go from there, either ripping against a ruler edge, or folding the image in to follow the outline of the shape, then cutting. Use your favorite glue medium to lay them down. depending on how you've prepped (or not) your blank page. I draw my template grids directly onto my pages; they usually end up covered over by the images so the lines don't show, but it doesn't bother me at all if they do. I used to occasionally go ahead a few pages in my journal and draw out a template, just for time savings later - the 'gotcha' with doing that, for me, was that often it wasn't the template I wanted for the moment at hand, by the time I got there. If you want to do these on loose sheets, then maybe a folder of templates, including several copies of your favorites, to have ready when the storyboarding muse strikes, would be helpful.
A few templates for you, straight from the pages of my journals! These are personal favorites (except the circle one, an experiment last night), and so I created this sheet as I went, to remind myself how the layout looked before images/words.