Yesterday, as I sat down to write some brilliant words in my WIP, I did what any writer does before starting. I got onto Facebook.
For research. I swear.
Okay, maybe not, but I did see a couple of posts that inspired the words you’re reading now, so it wasn’t all a waste of time. The posts were about imagination, one from a writer (which I can’t find now, grrr) about how he likes to create stories from looking into windows (which is a little creepy but I’ll come back to the idea). The other was from one of my favorite introvert-oriented pages, Introvert, Dear. It’s where people who don’t like to interact with people gather to . . . interact with people.
This was the meme.
I don’t think it’s a mystery that many writers are also introverts, so I figured this ecard could be generalized into that population as well. If you’re a writer, feel free to agree with me and then answer this question – has your imagination ever run away with you?
I’ve had sleepless nights where I constructed elaborate “stories” based on a worry or on impending good news. When I was a kid, I imagined joining the Ninja Turtles and sang backup for Ariel (of course, I was also a mermaid in that one). In a more “awake” example, if I’m bored on a road trip (as a passenger, geez) I gaze at the passing buildings, and if it’s nighttime and I can see through the windows (told you I’d come back to that), I imagine what it looks like in there. Maybe I’m the janitor in an office building or the desk clerk at a hotel. Maybe the entire floor of that building is empty and I’m a squatter sitting in the corner with my dog, contemplating my next move. Or maybe I’m a journalist about to make a big break.
Of course, odds are nothing remotely interesting is going on in those buildings, but it’s no fun to dwell on that possibility.
Stories exist because we have imaginations. That’s true for both readers and writers.
One of the skills I teach my young readers at school is visualization – picturing what they read in their heads. If you’re a lifelong reader, you might think this skill is automatic, but for some, it isn’t. And to be honest, I’m not 100% sure it’s something that can be taught in a way that will be truly internalized (this post suggests imagination and creativity can be cultivated). The general agreement among teachers and psychologists is some people have very vivid imaginations, a rare few have no imagination at all, and everyone else falls somewhere in between.
I’ve wondered if people who don’t enjoy reading really have less vivid imaginations than book lovers. Remember this famous Stephen King quote?
What if the writer’s imagination is much more vivid than the reader’s? I would imagine (ha) that “transporting” yourself into a story, seeing what the characters sees and feeling what he feels, would be harder/less fun if imagination is limited. Writing is “showing” what’s in my head so you can see it in yours, and I’d argue “bad writing” happens when the words get in the way of the imagery. Imagination is where the story comes to life.
How do you experience imagination as a writer or reader?