Let me Streeeeeeeetch Your Imagination a Little:

As a writer, I like to stretch my imagination. For me, this sometimes means looking at life from both sides of the coin. I like to analyze people’s behavior, determine what motivates them. I like to step inside their shoes, try them on for size, and be that person for a brief moment in time. I like to forget my opinions on subjects and think about how someone else might view the exact scenario. We all see life though a different set of eyes. Writers often speak about wiggling inside the skin of their characters, becoming them, breathing and laughing, feeling their emotions, understanding what their reactions to life’s circumstances are. One of the most important qualities a writer can posses is the ability to become that other person, to view them as people( take them or leave them) without passing judgment. Our characters can not always be the people we’d like them to be. Not if we want to write stories that keep our readers turning the page. Characters who are too good, too perfect are good for little more than putting the reader to sleep. We all have faults, some of them big, some little, but they are there nonetheless. And these faults that we seem to despise in other people, we love to read about. It’s interesting, what can I say?

Remember when you were a child and played make-believe?  Perhaps you took on a specific role to play. Were you a character who was looked up to? A villain perhaps? Did you act out scenes? Did you become angry and upset over some of the perils your character faced? Did you feel those emotions for yourself? Were they real?

I can vividly recall those feelings of anger, frustration, hurt, happiness as the character I was portraying in my games went through a series of life altering events. Who knew imagination could be so strong or evoke such emotions?  But our characters can not always chime out our own preferences or opinions, they can not view the world the same way that we do, or else we’re simply creating characters that mimic ourselves. Little mini-mes, if you will. I tend to think that would get a bit boring after awhile. I’ve got news for you all; I’m just not that interesting, seriously. So quite often I like to take a reverse role and try to imagine life through the eyes of someone totally opposite from myself.

This was partly the reason why I asked the questions I did in last week’s post, Cast Out the Writing Sob. I was hoping to have you reverse roles and view this subject from someone else’s point of view. Just because I don’t believe myself to be a writing snob, I was curious as to whether or not someone else might see me as one. Is it possible, I wondered? I have a awful lot of non-writing friends who maybe don’t understand why I have a blog or why self-promotion is pretty much a given once you’re a published writer. Maybe they see all these things as simply bragging on my part. Hey, you never know! Then again, I was also thinking (I  tend to do a lot of that sometimes) that perhaps the non-writing community can relate to what we writers go through just a bit more than we writers give them credit for. I received some great replies. Thanks! You’re all awesome and so very articulate. I love throwing out tough questions to you all, challenging you and asking you to stretch your imaginations.

So, I hope you don’t mind if I ask you to stretch your imaginations a bit by asking some tricky questions from time to time. I really like what you all have to say.  While I won’t admit to being nosey, I’m always curious as to what your thoughts are, not just my own.

Do you enjoy a good challenge and the chance to streeeeeetch your imagination? Or do you just enjoy life the way it is?

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  1. Oh dear Laura, I love streeeeeeeeching my imagination and so much so that I often play both roles and have full blown conversations between characters. I talk to myself (Oops no drugs needed, thanks) and I have a great deal of fun being on both sides of the coin. Like in a good debate, I can do the pro and the con with equal convinction.

    Some writers read their stories aloud, others are intimidated by the sound of their own voice and read silently. Do you read the story silently or are you fully engaged? Also, have you ever worked out a difficult sceen by playing both parts?

    • Florence, I love that you love streeeeeeeeeecthing you imagination.. And I especially love your enthusiasm. I like to read out loud to hear the flow of my words that you really don’t get a sense for when reading silently. I know some writers are shy at the sound of their voice. I’ve learned to get over that as I often read in public.

      I’ve never really worked out a difficult scene by playing both parts. Usually it comes down to only one character at a time, and figuring out exactly what they would say, how they would handle a certain situation. I can get quite picky by times. I like to make my reader aware of things in the story without coming right out and telling them. It’s a matter of knowing/sensing when that sentence should really end. I’ve been doing a lot of that recently.

      I hope that answers your question.

  2. If we’re going to have any dreams at all, don’t we have to stretch our imagination a bit? I don’t see myself an an imaginative person, but there must be a bit in there, right?

    • Oh Patti, you most certainly can practice streeeeetching your imagination. See how far you can run with it…Following our dreams requires that of us. Many people think they lack in the imagination department, but I’m sure they be surprised to find out otherwise.

  3. I have no idea how my imagination works. Have come up with 370 posts in 15 months and the ideas seem to pop up from nowhere. I astonish myself and am often entertained by these ideas as they seem to be fed to me by some external entity not myself. I have tried to analyze the behavior of others by imagining myself in their shoes as you suggest. What I learned is that most of them are just crazy.

    • I really have to agree with you.Carl. Coming up with all those cartoon ideas must keep you busy, not to mention constantly thinking and observing.

  4. I like stretching anything in this old bod. Especially my imagination. How I do it is a mystery. I work hard at dreaming up the scenes, following the characters around, writing down what they do. Then I relax by attempt to NOT think. Ain’t easy, let me tell you!

    • The only problem I can see about stretching my body is that it doesn’t stretch nearly as easy as my mind these days. lol So you’re saying the hard part is ignoring the characters. Yes, sometimes they can be quite insistent.

  5. Great question, Laura. I think all writers must challenge themselves to keep things interesting. It would be boring to read one book (let alone many) with all the characters the same. As I writer, I like to observe a situation and see how others react. Sometimes that leaves me out of the ‘action’, but I get a good sense of how others react to an event. Although I put a piece of me in every character I create, I don’t make them all the same.

    • Interesting. I tent to put myself in other shoes more often than to simply observe. That said, writers also have to simultaneously be aware the scenes they are working on as a whole and observe what’s also going on with the setting and plot. It’s as if we almost need split personalities.

  6. I have been stretched a lot lately, life has a way of doing that, doesn’t it?
    I need challenges. I don’t always like the ones I am dealt but I need them. How else can I grow?

    As far as imagination goes, I believe that writing is one of the best ways to stretch it. I took on two writing challenges at the same time during the whole month of November. One I completed and the other I would have if I had not had days during which I could not put pen to paper. But both stretched my imagination.

    Do I like life the way it is? haha Each day has its own built in surprise and opportunity to change and stretch. Not always fun but I like it that way.

    • Yes, Lynn you have been stretching far this past while. That’s the thing about the challenges we are sometimes called upon to face. If we were doing the choosing we’d likely choose differently. Unfortunately… I’ve come to think that while stretching is good for us, every once in awhile it’s just nice too relax.

  7. I like challenges, I like exploring, and I appreciate it when others do the same. Keep the questions coming….

    • Now that sounded like a challenge for me, Jennifer. I’ll have to keep my mind open and inquiring at all times. :)

  8. Will it sound bad now if I say I just enjoy life the way it is? At the moment I feel so overwhelmed sometimes with how amazing the world actually is that I don’t need to imagine anything else on top of that. I suppose these things come and go. Certainly there were periods in my life when I was constantly making up stories and imagining myself into different realities.

  9. No Helene, you’re entitled to your feeling just the way they are. We are all in different places along life’s path. Some of us will welcome challenges at this moment and others won’t. We’ve probably all been where you are at one time or another. I’m hoping that life settles down for you and those feelings of being overwhelmed will soon go away.


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