Imagine a small boy playing with cars in a sandbox on a sunny afternoon. See how he moves the cars through the sand, making the noises cars make and occasionally crashing them into each other, flinging sand everywhere as he laughs and screeches the whole time.
That little boy was me. Well, I’m not sure whether you specifically imagined me or not, but either way, that kid has a whole world developed and is so engrossed in it that he completely misses his mother calling him in for dinner. That part of the kid was not like me, I always heard my mother when she called.
That boy is at the prime of pure imagination. Lost in the beautiful world he’s created, he has not a care in the world. All he cares about is whether the racer will win or careen out of control into the grass.
This imagination, that comes so naturally to children, is what we should strive for as artists. Growing up we are told to bury it within us and to “grow up”. Myself and many others of the same mindset ask, “why”?
Even if our imagination is weak and not well developed, we all have one, and we can all learn how to cultivate and sharpen it, being able to use it in a moment’s notice. When it comes to writing, there is nothing as powerful as imagination.
Since around the age of five we are continually bombarded with the idea that we need to give up our “childish” imaginings and grow up.
I supressed my imagination so much while growing up that it became dull and unused. Anything I wrote lacked creativity and seemed flat. But as I grew up I realized how ironically important it is, for the health of the person alone, to have imagination. I took to stretching it more and devoted to developing it.
The best part about imagination is that it’s supposed to be fun. Let go of the notions you’ve grown up hearing and let loose all that you want to imagine. When you write, do you allow yourself to create something like a world run by pink polar bears? Or does that idea seem ridiculous? It’s not.
Don’t let logic try to sway you into thinking such notions are ridiculous. The world you create in your writing is whatever the heck you want it to be. The whole point of imagination is to create in your mind fantastical places, things, and events.
Explore and try new things
My favourite forms of art are acting and writing. I thoroughly enjoy creating a character and telling a story, more than most things. But one thing I wanted to do more than anything was painting. I tried watercolour and acrylic and was astonished that trying a different form gave me new inspiration and helped cultivate my imagination.
I learned that you gotta be open and ready to try new things in order to develop a crisp imagination. If you limit yourself in what you do, then your imagination will also be limited.
In writing allow yourself to write about ridiculous things. Don’t just write comfortable things either, but try different writing techniques like poems, essays, short stories, scripts, etc. I have tried many different forms of writing and it has helped me to explore new perspectives as well.
If you explore new things in life as well, like places, activities, and cultures, it will benefit your imagination and help you create rich and wonderfully detailed worlds. Keep your eyes open for new things and different perspectives. Learn as much about life as you can and keep growing. These will also help you develop an ever-expanding imagination.
If there was one thing I could point out as being the absolute enemy to imagination and creativity it would be fear. Whether it’s being afraid that you’ll only face rejection as a writer, or that you’re somehow not good enough to write a story or whatever the reason, don’t be afraid.
There’s so much freedom when you’re not afraid and you allow yourself to be lost in your imagination. When you don’t focus on the troubles of this world but truly allow yourself to create a world and story, rich and detailed characters, that is where pure magic happens.
I struggle with fear big time. It kind of ties in with the first point about getting rid of this idea of right and wrong when it comes to the subjective concepts of imagination and creativity.
What I mean is that you really can’t make mistakes when you use imagination, it’s not like you have a specific guideline you have to follow and stick to, you simply imagine what you wish. When you understand that there’s no invisible criteria and no one can say that what you imagine is wrong, there lies the freedom of it.
“Imagination is more important than knowledge” -Einstein
Don’t be afraid when using your imagination. Use it as much as you can! It’s completely subjective, don’t approach it in a black-and-white mindset. I encourage you to try new things. You may be surprised how new art forms challenge you and grow you. Don’t make the mistake I made as a young artist by being afraid.
Imagination is a beautiful thing. If you practice it, if you develop it, and move not in fear but in fun, then it will take you to places that are truly unimaginable.