Why do we need help waking our imagination? How can someone help you wake your imagination?
We are all born with an imagination. You only have to watch small children at play to see that. They can imagine themselves to be anything that they want. I'm sure you have heard them. They imagine that they are their favourite heroes and give the other kids roles. They then go on to create a scene and act it out.
So what happened to that imagination? In my opinion and experience, parents, teachers, and others stifled it. When I was a child I had a wonderful loving mother, but she was a practical down-to-earth person. I was the kind of child who had a strong imagination and if I said something she considered not possible or practical, she would tell me to 'stop talking nonsense'.
Fortunately for me, my father was just as imaginative as me. I remember one day standing looking up at a flock of birds flying overhead and saying, 'Wouldn't it be great to be able to fly like a bird. I could fly all over and see the rest of the world.'
My mum shook her head and said, 'Humans can't fly. We don't have wings and besides, we are far too big and heavy.'
My dad was there and he sidled up to me and said, 'It would be great wouldn't it. Where would you go first?' We started to talk about where we would go.
Mum chipped in, 'Stop encouraging her to talk nonsense. She needs to focus on learning practical things that will help her when she is older, and she needs to stop being such a dreamer.'
'Nothing wrong with having dreams,' my dad said. We wandered away, sat and watched the birds and talked about how they could fly. Dad told me how their wings worked and we decided that it would be fun to try to make wings so we could fly too.
Of course, someone whose imagination wasn't destroyed did invent a way for humans to fly, using hang gliders. People who didn't have their imagination squashed create all inventions. Imagine where the world would be without these people who can look at a problem and come up with a solution. To do this they have to use their imagination and believe that everything is possible. It is the same in writing.
I was lucky. My dad nurtured my imagination and at the second school I went to the teacher did too. I had home schooling until I was 12. At the first school, when we had to do creative writing we were told to write a story about what we did on our holiday. I thought about my holiday and decided that because I hadn't gone away to anywhere exciting and had spent the holiday working around the station we lived on, my story would be boring, so I made up a story about rustlers stealing our cattle and me and my brothers and sisters hunting them down. The teacher marked me down for making up a story and even accused me of lying. I was crushed.
But at my next school, the teacher encouraged us to make up a story for our writing assignment and I got top marks for using my imagination. I loved that teacher and spent that year having great fun making up stories, even in my spare time. I would show them to my teacher and she would praise me and gently guide me into improving my writing. I will always be grateful to her.
When I started to write stories for children, I had no trouble coming up with an exciting plot. If fact I had to rein it in a bit as I realised I had to make it believable, even if it was fantasy.
I had my first evaluation with an editor who came to Rockhampton for an editing workshop. Before the event, we had to write an example of bad writing and send her that and the first 20 pages of our current work in progress. I had a lot of fun with the bad writing exercise.
When it came to discussing our example of bad writing, she asked me to read out mine. When I did, she told everyone that my example was so bad that it was good. I was amazed. She told me it was because I used my imagination to come up with something interesting.
We had a private 3 minutes with her to discuss our story. She told me I had a great imagination and asked me where I got my ideas. I told her I got my ideas from my wild imagination that my father had allowed me to keep. I told her a little of my childhood. She nodded and said she wasn't so lucky. I felt sorry for her. How sad it would be to have all the knowledge she has of the technical aspects of how to write a great story but not the imagination to dream one up.
So back to the question of how we can stimulate our imaginations. During the Waking your imagination workshop on March 18th we will do some exercises on using our imagination and I will show you how I develop my stories. By the time you leave, you will have stimulated the imagination you were born with and will be able to apply it to your story idea.
I hope to see you there.
If you want to book, go to the workshop page. Choose the Workshops tab at the top of the page, or put this address in your browser.
http://www.gondorwriterscentre.com/workshops.html. To pay by credit card, phone me on 54 399 038.