Writing Hint #45: Using your imagination
“A lady’s imagination is very rapid: it jumps from admiration to love. From love to matrimony. It a moment.” Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin.
I am writing this post in my daughter’s office. She is a avid Jane Austin devotee. The above quote she has on a bookmark pinned to her notice board in front of her desk. It started me thinking.
Now let me set the scene:
- I am not going to write about “admiration.”
- I am not going to write about “love.”
- I am not going to write about “matrimony.”
Instead, it was the part about imagination I wish to address. Imagination is very rapid. We can have great leaps of the imagination that can take us soaring with the eagles, flying through the stars or swimming with the whales.
Imagination is the stuff of writing. Without imagination, writers are in a barren land. Without imagination readers would have no reason to read. Imagination is the land of mystery, it is the mighty ocean of the mind, it is the vast expanse of infinity. And we can access our imagination in an instant.
Writers and the imagination
Now for some practical hints about using the imagination.
Writers can tap into this vast storeroom of the imagination to come up with ideas for their stories, novels and poems. Learn to draw from life and all that you come in contact with for the seeds of stories. Always be looking, looking, seeking those gems of ideas that will spring into life as a story. How do writers do this? Let me tell you some ways you can do it.
- People: We meet or see people every day. Sit in a shopping mall and observe the people you see. Choose one of them. Jot down a few ideas about the person. Use your imagination to create a character. Where do they live? Why are they here? Where are they going? What are they worried (or happy) about? Let your imagination run riot.
- Photographs: Pick up a newspaper or magazine. Choose a photo – any photo. Don’t be too fussy; any photo will do. Now let your imagination run wild. (Do not read the caption or the story it accompanies; it will narrow your imagination.) Let your imagination come up with suggestions about a story involving the scene featured in the photo. For example, a photo shows a fisherman sitting in a boat. Who is this man? What problems have driven him to seek the solitude of fishing alone? Why is he looking so anxious?
- News headlines: Skim through a newspaper. Choose one headline; don’t read the article. Let your imagination loose so that it can come up with a story idea as a response to that headline. For example, the headline is about a boy genius entering university at age twelve.Your imagination jumps to thinking you are that boy. How did you get there? What happens to you at university? How do you cope with the rejections of your peers who think you are a freak?
- Household object: Go for a walk around your home. Choose any object that grabs your imagination. Come up with a story idea revolving around the object. For example, you pick up a pair of scissors.Your imagination leaps to murder. How did this murderous weapon come into your home? How are you involved?
- Listen for sounds: On a walk you stop to listen to the sounds around you. The wind is moaning through the trees. Let you imagination take you to a land of mourning, a place of tears and much distress. Why do you feel so sad? Who or what has died, been lost, destroyed or ruined forever?
Look for writing ideas everywhere. In the ordinary things of life. In the mundane objects and experiences. In the commonplace and familiar. And then let your imagination loose.