Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Imagination Cultivation


Every writer, whether writing fiction, non-fiction or poetry, needs a pretty active imagination. Most of us always find ourselves observing something, or someone, and wondering what is going on behind the scene. Don't you?

Long ago and far away–when I was working in the "9 to 5" world in Las Vegas–my evening commute home was between 4:00-5:00 pm, depending on when I left the office. One particular traffic stop was the intersection of Flamingo Ave. and "The Strip" - that is, Las Vegas Blvd. South. This is one of the busiest intersections of the entire "Strip" and the traffic light was red a bit longer than normal - whatever normal is. Mind you, this was before they constructed the walkways that go over the street, so the pedestrians crossed in front of us stopped at the light.

My imagination went into over-drive as I watched people from all over the world cross in front of me. Six to eight people deep, crowded heel-to-toe as they made their way to the other corner. Some moved leisurely, some were in a hurry; some talked to companions, others were alone; some had cameras and would stop, willy-nilly, in the middle of the crosswalk to snap a picture; others were busy talking into their cell phones, gesticulating as they walked, oblivious to anyone or anything around them.

What a rich source of ideas and 'what-if's' this mass of humanity presented. Where were they from? Were they happy? What was their home-life like? What was that blonde gal saying to her companion? Did they have children? Oh, some obviously did, as they pushed strollers and carried toddlers on their shoulders.

Not all were tourists. Some were there on business, others for one of the hundreds of conventions held in Vegas annually. Some were, undoubtedly, locals doing some shopping, or going to one of the many restaurants or shows in the hotels along this famous road.

Yes, people-watching is one of the richest sources for generating ideas and jogging the ol' imagination into gear. It is also great fun.

But, there are other things to help the writer's imagination along:

1. Spend some time outdoors, communing with God. Just sit quietly and listen, feel, smell, sense what surrounds you.

2. Read. Read. Read. Get the best books written in the genre you wish to pursue, or get how-to books about your particular writing interest. Read a variety of other types of books, not just your own genre. Nothing stimulates the imagination like a good book, well written, regardless of genre. Read the classics.

3. Take time to just think. Concentrate on your inner thoughts. Make the time each day to do this
4. Listen to random conversations around you. The couple in the booth behind you at the restaurant
. The kids on the seat behind you on the plane. You may not hear the entire conversation, and what you do hear might not make a lot of sense, but this will give you a feel for the dialog, mannerisms, vocabulary that is being used.

5. Work to keep your motivation high. When things begin to wane, go out and get some fresh air, gather some fresh impressions, and then get back to work.

6. Hang on to your sense of humor! Don't allow frustration to rob you of that keen appreciation of the absurd and ridiculous. Laughter is, after all, the best medicine of all.

What about you? Writer or otherwise, what triggers your mind’s imagination?

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