It could save yours too.
I’ve been writing fiction for a while now. I started taking it seriously around 2010, wrote a couple of bad books that are still wasting away in drawers because they are terrible. But eventually I got better and between 2012 and 2019 I published ten books, mostly romance and women’s fiction.
Starting in 2020 I hit a major wall. The pandemic and having a young child at home didn’t help things, but something else was wrong with my writing that I couldn’t quite put a finger on. The book On Writer’s Block by Victoria Nelson became a near constant companion.
By December 2023, I’d been struggling to finish something, anything, for nearly three years. Twelve unfinished books sat in my WIP folder, mocking me. But I couldn’t see how to finish. At the beginning of December, I told myself that if I hadn’t made progress by January, it was time to give up on writing and find something else to do with myself.
And then, right before the new year, I read a post on Joanna Penn’s excellent site called “Using AI For Art, Images, And Book Covers With Derek Murphy.” I’d never heard of Midjourney before that point. I was so excited that I had to check it out immediately. I remember lying in bed with a cup of coffee, thinking I might check it out for a few minutes. And quickly losing the rest of the day to it.
But maybe you’re wondering…
What Is Midjourney?
I’m not a computer, tech, or AI expert. I’m a fiction writer. But from the way I understand it, Midjourney is a text to image AI program that is similar in function and training to ChatGPT. This AI goes through discord rather than on an app or a website. You put a prompt in and out comes four images to choose from, which you can then change or upscale. It is a subscription-based service, although there is a free trial. Here’s an example:
PROMPT: 1930s noir femme fatale and detective, on a street at night
Why Midjourney Changed My Writing
One of the first things I did when I got into Midjourney was to create images for a fantasy series I’d been thinking about for a long time.
The next thing I did was create a few images for a weird dieselpunk adventure book I’d been working on for years. One of my major hangups with this book until that point had been the book cover. I didn’t have the money to spend on original art and I couldn’t find any cover designers or stock images that would work for the project. The writing was good; the story was unique and fun, but because I couldn’t see how to turn it into an actual book, I lost steam on it.
That very first day, I tried to create some images for a cover and I was totally blown away. There on the screen was exactly what I’d envisioned. And this was with almost no prompt training. I was probably doing all kinds of silly things, and now that I’ve been using Midjourney for four months, I can create a lot better images. But these are the ones that sparked my writing again in those early days:
Looking at these early images now, they aren’t so impressive. I’ve gone on to create over a thousand images. The images I created were so exciting that I wanted to share them, so I started an Instagram account, @aiartquotes, where I share images coupled with quotes I like. I continued developing pictures to go with my fiction.
As I did, I started getting excited about my projects again. I could see the work in a new way. It felt more real. And suddenly, I started writing again. I looked at the pictures and wondered where the characters were, what they were doing, what would come next. It gave me fresh energy for old projects.
Not only that, but Midjourney was like an AI gateway drug, leading me quickly to ChatGPT, which catapulted me even farther out of writer’s block.
Midjourney for the Writing Process
Book covers are just the tiniest tip of the iceberg of how writers can benefit from trying out Midjourney. It’s great for ads, social media posts, and marketing. For example, you could try creating images of your characters or settings and building micro stories with pictures on Instagram or Twitter.
These images are also great for the writing process itself. I use it to help me imagine scenes, characters, and get inspiration for the worlds I’m creating.
You could also use it to create comic books, or why not add in more pictures to your books? That’s what I’m doing with my current major project, a gothic novel called Darkest of Waters. I plan to add gothic pen and ink drawings at the beginning of each chapter.
Having the ability to see pictures of fictional things that you’ve only ever imagined in your head is incredibly powerful. It opens you up to creating in new ways, seeing your projects differently, and gives fuel to the writing so you can get more done. I’d highly recommend checking it out.
And if you don’t like Midjourney, there are many other AI art/text to image programs out there right now, including StableDiffusion, and DALL-E. I personally think that Midjourney is the best, but check them out if you’re interested.
One last note: Midjourney can be like quicksand. You will likely lose large blocks of time if you venture into this wild land of imagery. But I’m willing to bet you’ll find an incredible source of inspiration for your work, as well.
So give Midjourney a try! Who knows, it may just be the hammer that breaks your creative block, too.
Want to learn more about writing with ChatGPT? Check out my AI for Authors series that covers fiction and creative nonfiction!