The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.
—-Jean Jacques Rousseau
“What an imagination you have!”
Most writers have likely heard that a time or two, I know I have. Many non-writers seem to be in awe of what thoughts run though a writer’s mind. Some people seemed to be under the impression that a writer’s imagination is somehow different than the average person’s, that we posses the ability to think up the strange and unusual in a way they could only dream of.
I’m not so sure I agree.
Granted, as writers, we allow our imagination to unfold upon the page. It is not a private thing. Once it is written it is there for anyone and everyone to see. It is not the same thing as a thought. A thought is private, one we can choose to verbalize or keep to ourselves. What sets a writer apart from the rest of society? We write out our thoughts, create them into whole new world. We mould and meld them to suit ourselves. We write it down.
But imagination is not the only thing that a writer needs. It takes patience and a willingness to work with words, the same words over and over, as we move about phrases and sentences to produce the proper flow. We sometimes rewrite the same sentence many times before we get it right. Sometimes we even know the story well, yet we struggle to capture it on paper the way we envision it in our minds.
But the rest of you use your imaginations as well. How many times have you gone over a conversation with someone in your mind, struggling to express yourself coherently? Or have planned a set of circumstances for an event that has not yet happened and perhaps never will? Please don’t try to convince me that you’ve never taken an event say— someone being late for dinner—and spun a whole story around the what ifs and could haves of the situation. Don’t be ashamed. We all do it to some extent, some of us more than other. It could just mean that those of us who do it more often are the ones who exercise our imaginations more.
Words are not the only place where out imagination comes into play. Anytime we create something we hold a vision of it in our minds before we bring it into existence. I can’t imagine someone thinking that they do not have an imagination.
Some of us try and define imagination. We describe someone as having a good or bad imagination. We might label someone as having a wild or even vivid imagination. Sometimes, in exasperation, we might even claim that someone has no imagination whatsoever, but of course that is impossible. One thing I’m almost certain of, we do all have an imagination. If we have the ability to think I would challenge anyone who says they have never dreamed a what if in their life.
Just for the fun of it (because I’m such a fun person) if someone were to define your imagination in one word, what do you imagine that word would be?