Wednesday, June 10, 2009

How to Cultivate a Fertile Imagination

Learning to Seek Inspiration

God has given us a wonderful gift in our imagination. Our modern world has developed from people imagining outrageous things like flying, surgery in the womb, space travel and so much more. We are surrounded by creativity; the chairs we sit on, the malls we shop at, the cars we drive, all started in someone’s imagination. Imagining is also a vital part of story-telling and there are ways we can develop this skill.

Become an Observer
I love watching people – it doesn’t matter where I am. Everyday locations such as coffee shops, trains, buses, airports, sport arenas and banks are wonderful places to observe people’s behavior. Look for mannerisms, emotions and reactions as well as unusual dress styles and appearance. Many people that I’ve brushed shoulders with for a brief moment, have appeared in my stories.

What if
This is a great question to get your imagination going and can be asked in any situation. What if my brakes failed on this hill? What if this letter contained news of a sister I never knew I had? What if my flight was diverted to Africa? What if I inherited a toy shop? Ask yourself this type of question as you go about daily life.

Feed your Imagination
An idle mind is an unimaginative mind. Feed it by reading a cross section of books and playing games or doing puzzles. The idea is to get used to thinking about different topics and stretching your abilities. I’ve just completed four hours of instruction in New Zealand Sign Language. It was an amazing experience and I learnt so much more than the signs themselves. I now have a basic understanding of Deaf Culture and what it means to be deaf in a hearing world. I’ve a feeling a deaf character may pop up in one of my future stories.

Engage the Five Senses
Writing is a product of what we feel, experience and imagine with our five senses. I was in Wellington last week, walking down the main street towards the train station. I had a looming deadline for a short story competition and was trying to think of an idea – with little success. It was an icy day and as I passed a large book store, I paused in the doorway, enjoying the warmth that spilled out. As I did so, one line popped into my mind – the aroma of paper and new books. (Don’t you just love that smell?) The whole story followed a few minutes later and I wrote it out while traveling on the train.

New Textures and Tastes
In a similar fashion, I’ve found that exposing myself to a variety of different experiences helps my imagination. We have several fair-trade type shops where I live, and I love to wander through them. The sight and feel of wooden carvings, stone chess sets, woven rugs, silk scarves and jasmine soap always brings pictures to mind.

These are a few simple ways to develop imagination skills, but the most important way is by prayer. Ask God to drop thoughts, scenes and stories into your mind as you go about daily life. He longs to use us and I know by experience that He answers these prayers and inspires imaginations.

Have a wonderful creative week and come back and leave a comment if you have an inspired moment you’d like to share with us.

Debbie Roome works as a freelance writer from her home in New Zealand. Read some of her work at Suite 101 , Take Root and Write and Faithwriters.

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scw1217 said...

I like what you had to say. I am not a fiction story writer, but I have always watched people and wondered where they were going and what they might be going to do. It's good to know I am not the only person who does this! Nice thoughts.

kc said...

This is something I need to work on big time. I always have problems answering "what if" questions. Many prayers have gone unanswered in this area and I'm wondering why.
God bless,

Tracy Ruckman said...

I love this article. My imagination tends to be overactive - my family tells me I ask way too many questions! :-)

Congratulations, Debbie, on your FaithWriters win this week! Your story was EXCELLENT.