I once heard someone saying something like:
Words create ideas,
ideas create pictures,
pictures create colors,
colors create scenes,
scenes create words.
or something like that, my memory isn´t really good
I think you describe it actually quite well how my feelings about novels are
As I said a little bit above, if you plan it well it might work, but only if you keep it simple, meaning not creating pictures of the characters but maybe from very specific items (like a map). And as you said it can become work
But it can become a distraction.
Oh, no need to hold back, believe me, my art is maybe kindergarten level
If you want, you can see what I am "capable" of here (but be warned, this can´t be unseen ) - the newest one is also the placeholder I used for my cover ^^
But joke aside, I know what you want to say