Saturday, August 7, 2010

Imagination Revisited

"Write. The physical act itself will free the imagination." --Steven Taylor Goldsberry

We discovered a winner when we pulled out an old doll house in preparation for our granddaughter's recent stay. What to do with a two-year old when it's too hot to go to the park and all the old regulars--bubbles, puzzles, and Play-Doh--have become, well, old? The doll house, one her mommy helped put together when she was a little girl--was a big hit.

Angelica's reaction to the new-to-her plaything was precious. Eyes wide with wonder. Little voice exclaiming, "House!" The discovery of furniture, doll family, and even (ahem) a doll-sized toilet. She loved the piano--they have one at home--and ran fingers over keys as "B-I-N-G-O, Bingo was his name-o" played behind her. We even overheard her tell the children to "sleep" as she laid them on the bunk bed.

A child's imagination was reintroduced into OUR house. Priceless.

I've been thinking alot about imagination as I begin book two. Though some elements, like setting, shout at me, the story still remains elusive. I need to stir the imagination big time. Marshall Cook, in How to Write with the Skill of a Master and the Genius of a Child, says most of us grow cautious as we grow up. "But inventors, pioneers, and entrepreneurs retain that childish ability to play 'let's pretend'. "

So, how to play let's pretend as an adult? How to dream up, create, craft a story using a lively imagination, holding nothing back?

One way is to dip into the experience bag of others who have gone before. One book I have on deck is Blake Snyder's Save the Cat. Though designed for screenwriting, it's also a great handbook for exploring the subject of storytelling. I also plan to play around with Cook's Skill of Master/Genius of Child writing exercises to help jump-start the process.

The most important way, however, is to simply write, with faith that the physical act itself will free the imagination. And that, because I'm a writer and I like to write, should be a little bit like child's play.

What do you do to help stir your imagination?


  1. I couldn't help but think of my own grandson when he visits and we pull out my daughter's old toys:) I try to visualize as best I can but I know that is a downfall for me:)

  2. I love your comparisons from real life to writing. They always make me think.

    I love this doll house. Its gorgeous and makes me wish I had one (not the lame plastic barbie doll house I had) when I was younger.

  3. I know, doesn't this dollhouse ROCK?? I have all these childhood memories of watching it come together...and now that it's out again, it's still so magical. I love that we used REAL scraps of carpet, wallpaper, and such and that there is a phone glued to the wall, and towels on a towel rack in the bathroom...I remember how exciting it was to take a trip to the "dollhouse shop" (do those even exist anymore??) with Mom to get a new a plate of corn on the cob (with butter) to put on the kitchen table. Oh, and the stuff that wasn't the pencil lead broken off to float in the toilet (sorry for being so graphic but I was so proud to have come up with that idea).
    So I think the secret to opening the imagination is to still find joy in those kinds of activities (with the excuse of playing with a real child if necessary) as we become adults!!

  4. Terri: "visualize"--that's the word I've been looking for, it escaped me until I read your comment. Now it's my word of the week!

    Melissa:--thank you for your kind comment. And I hope someday you have a dollhouse like this. Doesn't matter how old you are, you can still enjoy!

    And Supermom--I am SO glad to hear how special this house was (and still is) to you. That makes it even more special when I see your little one playing with it. It was fun to furnish it together. Sad to say that dollhouse shop went out of business years ago. And you are so right--the secret to imagination is to still find joy in these kinds of things. Want to do another dollhouse sometime?!

  5. Love that picture. You know I never thought about that, nurturing our imaginations. It seems like I've never stopped nurturing mine in some respects, but I know I could do more to expand it. It's time to visualize new things in different ways. Love this post.