Skip to content

So You Want to Be a Writer: Imagine That!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

“All my seven Narnian books . . .began with seeing pictures in my head.
At first they were not a story, just pictures.
The Lion all began with
a picture of a Faun carrying an umbrella and parcels in a snowy wood.
This picture had been in my mind since I was about sixteen.
Then one day, when I was about forty, I said to myself:
‘Let’s try to make a story about it.’”

~C. S. Lewis

What is Imagination?

Well, if you go to the dictionary, you’ll read this:

  1. the faculty of imagining, or of forming mental images or concepts of what is not actually present to the senses.
  2. the action or process of forming such images or concepts.
  3. the faculty of producing ideal creations consistent with reality, as in literature, as distinct from the power of creating illustrative or decorative imagery.

If you do a little more research and go to the encyclopedia, you’ll find concepts like these:

  • the process or form of images or concepts
  • plays a key role in the learning process
  • the ability to invent partial or complete relative realms within the mind
  • the process behind invention
  • helps in problem-solving
  • helps us develop our perception of the world

The ancient Greeks defined art as an imitation of reality. This precept stood for nearly two thousand years; however, by the 19th century, philosophers and artists alike questioned that if art really were merely a reflection of reality, then why did art so often diverge from reality, forming the basis of the Romantic movement. The concept of imagination replaced imitation.

“None of our conscious interaction with the world
around us is free from the imagination’s input.”

~Janine Langan

Imagination gives us the ability to distance ourselves from oppression or stress. Over the past twenty years, multiple studies have been conducted on the efficacy of creative writing as therapy. Results have shown that college students’ test scores increased an average of about one letter-grade; blood pressure and heart rate can decrease; it can improve immune function and reduce the rate of minor illnesses such as colds and flu; it can reduce psychological distress over a traumatic experience by reducing “intrusive” thoughts about the event; and so on.

Other things imagination helps us with:

  • empathizing with situations different from our own
  • seeing other points of view/making compromises
  • generating hope—allowing us to create optimistic goals and actions even when circumstances are dire
  • defying the idea of fate/destiny
  • .
    Where Does Imagination Come From?

    Imagine That! C.S. Lewis Quote |

    I cannot define where imagination comes from any better than C. S. Lewis did. But I do know that the more I pay attention to those “pictures” that come into my head, the more I allow myself time to think about them and let them ferment and develop, the more frequently and clearly they come.

    Do We Use Our Imaginations Enough?
    Is imagination necessary to life, or is it the ice-cream sidecar to the birthday cake of life? So often, as adults when we hear the word imagination, we think of it as a distraction—a charming distraction—but nonetheless something we should label as “childish” and to be put aside in favor of reason, logic, and responsibility.

    Do you know why TV shows—whether scripted or unscripted (so-called “reality” shows)—take commercial breaks right at the pivotal moment of the story/right before the winner is announced? Because if they’ve done their job right, they’ve worked our imaginations into a fury, and we have to stay tuned to see if it’ll turn out the way we imagine.

    In this busy world, when, at any given time during the day, there are at least five things vying for our attention—between work, e-mail, phone, blog, writing, bills, family, and so on—allowing time for the free-flow of the imagination doesn’t get priority.

    But the good thing about imagination is that it can happen anytime. So instead of listening to the radio in the shower or in the car, turn it off and turn on your imagination. Same goes for the TV.

    If you have a set amount of time to write every day, take fifteen minutes at the beginning of it to just let your mind wander; try to remember what you dreamed about last night, or take a snippet of a conversation you had earlier in the day and imagine it went in a totally different direction, or imagine you’d made a decision differently earlier in the day. Anything to tap into your imagination.

    For Discussion:
    Is imagination necessary to life?

    Do you consider yourself an imaginative person?

    How do you exercise your imagination outside of writing?

    Do you ever give yourself time to lose yourself in a daydream?

  1. Thursday, September 26, 2013 1:31 pm

    I think imagination is very necessary to life. When it’s taken away, we end up with nations like Russia and China, so beaten down and controlled that they’ve lost hope, and can’t imagine anything.

    When my imagination wasn’t on speaking terms with me in 2010, it was a very hard, lonely place. I missed my “imaginary friends”, but they wouldn’t come out and talk to me. I think they’re making up for lost time now.


    • Thursday, September 26, 2013 2:25 pm

      I think even when governments try to oppress it, imaginative thinking still finds a way to shine. Despite those countries tight control, there are still very creative people with inventions, music, ideas and novels.

      I look at imagination and creativity as part of our DNA, we were created in God’s image and He certainly has the greatest imagination there is. Look at Australia. 🙂 Love Kangaroos. If a part of Him is reflected in our makeup, then that imagination will always be there to tap at some level. What a great gift, right?


  2. Thursday, September 26, 2013 2:19 pm

    My first novel, Missing Pieces, started with an image in my head of a young woman going through an old trunk in an attic. The stroy grew from there. I think most of my projects have started with an image or brief scene, but usually one from near the end of the book and I have to go back and figure out how they got there. That’s part of the fun.

    Imagination is imparitive! I don’t think we could survive without it. Think of all the wonderful conveniences and inventions we would be missing today. I’m really glad Mr. Crapper was imaginative enough to invision the modern toilet. I would not do well in a day before modern plumbing. And yet, I often day dream of living in a castle in Scotland with my Highland hottie, so go figure. 🙂

    I usually do my day dreaming before sleep, but it’s fun to fit it in whenever I can. Convenient that it doesn’t take any special equipment.


  3. Friday, September 27, 2013 11:39 am

    I’ve found that I’m often most creative when I’m driving a quiet road, taking a shower, or lying in bed. It’s during the times that I’m not distracted (not when driving during rush hour) that my imagination is set free.


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: