Just like their screenwriter/scriptwriter/comic book writing brethren, fiction prose writers can benefit from the use of illustration.
Even though I started out with absolutely zero aptitude for drawing or painting—I literally could not draw a stick figure—I began using storyboard illustrations to choreograph the action sequences in my novels. There is something about the act of drawing—of creating imagery on paper, canvas, or tablet—that energizes the creative centers of the brain. When I draw and paint, it relaxes and focuses the mind, bringing the story searing to cinematic life inside the theater of the mind.
Illustration really is the perfect synergistic artistic endeavor for those who write novels. Among the many reasons for this is the reward of immediate gratification. It is a nice feeling to finish a drawing of painting within a few weeks or so; especially for method writers like myself. It takes me endless months and often years to complete a novel and get it published. The creative fixes from drawing help get me by in the long year plus between books.
Another wonderful thing, the people in the illustration world online (Instagram etc.) are very supportive—even when you are a clueless newbie who sucks like me. As writers out there know all too well, this kind and gentler attitude is not always the case in the writer/reading community where venom-spewing one star reviews are commonplace.
But like anything else you have to be fan of illustration to have enough passion to do it. It takes daily practice, discipline and mental toughness to improve and a fierce determination and burning self-confidence to push through the inevitable frustrating setbacks that occur in any worthwhile endeavor.
But the reward is tremendous and the upside unlimited. Your creativity will flourish. Your writing will become more visual. Your mind will be more relaxed and focused. And most of all, you will learn something about yourself.
Below - rough character sketches of scene from book three in the "Caitlin Star" series, "Caitlin Star and the Rise of the Barbarians". Coming soon to a bookstore near you.