The Care and Feeding of the Imagination


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Today, my mind feels like a vast desert. Miles upon miles of sand without even a Saguaro in sight. The sunshine beats down on my head, burning out the engines of my thought. Fiction? What’s fiction? Writing? My soul wails and whimpers. As much as I enjoy my part-time job, my need for money has begun to take over and has parched out the lush jungle that was my imagination.

Writers rely on their imaginations as do all artists. Imagination also solves problems, visualizes futures, supports empathy, and opens hearts.  America, and Americans, could sure use a lot more imagination right now.

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As for me, I need to take better care of my imagination.  I need to feed it what it needs to thrive.  In other words, I need to play like a child again.  Look at picture books.  Watch animated movies.  Go outdoors and play pretend.  Listen to music and move.  Kids have an instinct about play.  It comes naturally.  As kids grow up, each year they have more homework and less play.  In college, though, some playtime returns. I remember some radical water fights with other inhabitants of the Deutsche Haus when I was in college.

Where to begin?  First, it’s truly necessary to take care of whatever’s bugging me, i.e. chores, chores, and more chores.  Next, take care of the money issue.  I have a de-cluttering project started that will, I hope, bring in a nice chunk of money.  Of course, the issue with that project is having the time to really focus on doing the documentation and photographing, then uploading the items to selling websites.  It’s far more work than I’d expected.  And last, let go of the part-time job when I am at home. There is no reason with this kind of job to bring any of it home with me.

Once these adult things are out of the way, then my mind, I hope, will be fertile ground for my imagination and playtime.  What kind of play?  One of the things my imagination just loves is listening to classical music.  The music sparks characters, action, stories, and dialogue and continues to feed my imagination for developing them.

Free writing can also open all the doors and windows to let in lots of fresh air.  It’s written free association.  Sometimes I use writing prompts from The Writer or Writing the Natural Way by Gabriele Lusser Rico. Or I pull a word out of the air to see what kind of character it will trigger in my imagination.

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Movement tones up the old brain muscle.  It can be as simple as a brisk walk around the neighborhood, or as complex as a dance routine.  When I was a kid, I loved to dance.  I rushed home from school to watch American Bandstand and dance around our living room to the music.  Getting back in touch with my body helps me to feel comfortable and relaxed.  It’s amazing how much tension and stress accumulates in the body.

Does Nature feed your imagination?  Coloring pictures?  What do you do to revive the jungle of your imagination?

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2 responses to “The Care and Feeding of the Imagination

  1. We get so clogged up with stuff that sometimes the imagination has no air to breath! We need to weed and get rid of all that dead wood. I agree, a brisk walk, listening to classical music or some favourites (Willie Nelson can do it for me) can be a breath of fresh air that the imagination will be grateful for 🙂

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