By Ruth Wellens
Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary definition of imagination is: “the act or power to form mental images of something not present to the senses or never before wholly perceived in reality; a creation of the mind.”
Children are encouraged to use their imagination with an empty box or with blocks. We adults must use more creative means.
Writing, of course, uses the imagination, but the practice of using our imagination can occur anytime or anywhere. When I walk on the trail after a rain, sometimes I pretend I am walking some place other than the trail. The birds are chirping, the sky is a deep blue, and the air is damp – like a rain forest.
Sometimes when the atmosphere is foggy, I transport myself (via imagination) to London. Why not? I can’t see very clearly here in Green Bay the same way people often can’t see very clearly in London, England. The only difference is that London might be considered more exotic.
How about the shores of Green Bay or the shores of Door County? What’s on the other side? Maybe we think we know because we’ve driven to the other side or have been transported there by boat. But what if it has changed? What if it’s something else? We can always imagine.
Have you ever wondered what that waitress is thinking – especially when someone decides to create a complicated order? Have you ever encountered a stranger and wondered what his or her back story is? What about family dynamics as observed in a park or at a store? Is that couple holding hands married? Dating? Having an affair?
This is the stuff of writers – wondering, creating, “forming mental images … not present to the senses.”
So now that our imagination is primed is that all we need? Picture the perfect writing day, with daily chores done and no other commitments. We cozy up to our laptop ready to begin. Only, well, nothing. Even the most perfect setting does not guarantee that writing will be produced. Sometimes even when all the stars are aligned, writing still falls flat.
What to do? Use your imagination.