What do I mean by creative imagination? It is more than a good imagination. And it is more than being creative.
Being able to actively imagine things, and to see and hear things in one’s mind, is an important ability, especially for writers. Yet it doesn’t necessarily involve much creativity. Daydreaming, for example, is a process of imagination. It may involve an elaborate fantasy world, but include many of the things that many people think about.
Creative imagination, however, includes not only the ability to imagine, but to create original thoughts. It is being able to see things that others don’t, and being able to create new ideas. So how do you cultivate this?
Here are three suggestions:
Stretch your imagination. Try to think in pictures. Say you’re planning a trip to the mall. Spend a few minutes picturing the process of getting ready to leave the house. Imagine, in pictures, the drive to the mall. Create in your mind pictures of the shops you will visit and the things you will buy. Another way to stretch your imagination is to think of a piece of music you enjoy, and consciously listen to it in your mind. Remember incidents such as a time when your children were playing in the rain. Picture them at play. Play these little “movie clips” in your mind, until you can watch them on command.
Combine concepts. Try combining random concepts in new ways. e.g. A thermometer and a billboard alongside the highway could generate an idea for a sign that says “Stop at our hotel to escape the heat and enjoy a cold drink.” Come up with a number of such scenarios and your creativity will grow.
Redesign objects around you. Imagine a better tricycle for toddlers, come up with a more attractive laptop, invent a more efficient postal system or a better computer desk. Keep doing this for several weeks and it will spill over into your writing or other artistic pursuits.
We’ve been looking at ways to come up with answers. Next week we’ll look at ways to come up with questions.