Writing is a mostly mechanical exercise, making practiced movements with a pen and paper or seeking the correct key on a keyboard. And putting those words together is part of the higher mental powers given to the human species through millions of years of evolution. But the act of imagination, the power it gives us to bring those words together into a coherent narrative and even tell stories with those words, to me that it is transcendent of all the abilities we’ve garnered from evolution. To me, it’s almost a gift of the soul.

I keep three separate lists on my flash drive. One list has short summaries and blurbs of novels, films, TV shows, comic books, and even video games I’d like to write. I’m up to sixty-one ideas at the moment. The second list gives short descriptions of short stories I plan to write (seventeen at the moment). And the third list has subjects for articles I can write for Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors (great blog, by the way. Totally recommend it). That’s a total of eighty-eight ideas, and all of them are possible through my imagination. Heck, I wouldn’t have any of the ideas for stories I write if it wasn’t for imagination.

And imagination is influenced by so many things. Everyday life influences imagination, allows it to be transformed into stories. I read an article about efforts to stop forced marriages with metal spoons and I got an idea for a short story from that. When I went to my science fiction class, I had an idea for a novella that I had to blog about almost immediately (see this post for the actual article). Speaking to some friends about the recent death of an actor to suicide, I thought of an idea for a crime novel. When the lights in the Super Dome went out early this year, I got an idea from that too.

And not just events in life fuel the imagination. When I read or watch TV or a movie, I get ideas from them too. Just today, a book I’m in the middle of reading gave me an idea for a short story taking place in Jerusalem. Watching a favorite episode of Doctor Who the other day, I had an idea for a six-book series featuring Agatha Christie (Whovians, I bet you can guess which episode that is). I even have an idea for a movie to bring back a TV franchise I used to love as a kid. And how many fairy tales and childrens books have I taken and turned into new stories that boggle the mind and scare the soul? All this is possible through these works’ influences on my imagination, and my imagination’s influence on me.

Imagination. It is the ability to absorb events or old ideas and–pardon the adjective used–regurgitate it into a new form. It is the application of ideas and concepts in a new light, in a new way. It’s the churning of our subconscious, which spits out, like in a Greco-Roman Creation myth, something new and fabulous and beautiful. It is a force that I contemplate, that I look at and wonder about its complexity.

And perhaps one day I’ll write a story about its impact…oh wait. I’ve already got one or two ideas based on that! Never mind.

The point is, the imagination is something that is such a benefit to the act of writing, the act of living, that without it life would be so much less beautiful and powerful and amazing. It’s given me a ton of ideas, and I hope it’ll give me some more in the future. Because if my imagination can allow me to create a large body of work to leave me behind, even if I don’t get famous off of it all, I’ll feel like I’ve left behind an amazing legacy for the world.

Though if I can get famous I won’t complain.

What’s your view on the imagination and its impact on writing and on life?

  1. There are writers who complain about the inadequacy of the right stuffs to write on;calling it by the name “writer’s block”. There even exists another category who fails to write because of overwhelming ideas. This heterogeneity has always mesmerized me!! I wonder, amidst all the regular story teller aerobatics, are our writers losing the very essence of imagination?

  2. Jools says:

    It would be impossible to write any kind of fiction without imagination. The advice often goes, ‘write what you know’. But that’s only the start – a foundation stone. You need imagination to take you into the heads and hearts of your characters, to create their worlds and their dilemmas, their trials and redemptions. Half the fun of learning to write is discovering your imagination.

  3. pluto162013 says:

    This reminds me of the debate on which is more useful, imagination or knowledge. I think of what must have been the first exercise of imagination? Imagination, probably is the only thing that we have when faced with a situation so strange that none of our knowldege, all of which is experiential, is of no use. For example, what did our pre-historic ape ancestor do when, suddenly, the forests vanished due to climate change and he found himself in savannah grassland? This was a strange situation and he could no longer swing from branch to branch to dodge the predators. In fact, he could not even see them approach because of the tall grass and he was on all fours. So he decided to stand up on his hind legs to see far. That, probably, was pure imagination. Newton said he could see far because he stood on the shoulders of giants. He was modest. But our earliest ancestor could be justly proud. Look where we are becuase he decided to stand up on his hind legs.

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