When we write we fly into a world of our own creation full of amazing people and exciting scenes; which is exactly what I love most about writing – unlocking my mind and allowing my imagination to fly. As long as we have access to our imagination we are always free to travel anywhere we want, with whom we want.
But how can we unlock that precious and infinite commodity?
Well, as the word hints, imagination can be triggered by “images” – be they actual or virtual. Children live happily floating between reality and the world their innocent imaginations create but, as we grow older, we are often schooled to stop day-dreaming and to focus on the real, practical world instead and so we become less comfortable embracing rampant journeys into our imagination. The following 3 techniques show you how to unlock your imagination and have a little fun along the way.
I regularly troll the photo libraries and find random photo’s to create visual “storyboard” like the one below and then use those photo’s to create a story outline.
A demon and an angel fight for the soul of a soldier left, wounded and delirious, on an island by his squat team. OR
The SAS are sent on a mission to a private island to wipe out a terror cell that are funded by a billionaire media mogul but find that he’s hosting a fantasy party with many of the world’s top movie stars to cover his illicit activities.
Here are some links for some of the photo libraries I use:
Depositphotos – http://bit.ly/14Zz9JO
Veers – http://bit.ly/14Zz20H
Fotolia – http://bit.ly/14ZyEzi
2. Visualisation (or as I prefer to call it old-fashioned day-dreaming)
For as long as I can remember I have day-dreamed actively. I was the little girl at the back of the classroom watching dust fairies and imagining entire worlds on each glimmering fleck. As I got older I harnessed those day-dreams into useful creative prompts. Now every night as part of my bedtime rituals I’ve created my own virtual reality which is a nightly story that I develop before going to sleep.
I am convinced that day-dreaming is a critical part of developing your imagination – be it an organised day-dream where you deliberately guide the visualisation or a pure, random time where you simply relax and see where your thoughts take you. It’s not exactly a trial and you’ll be surprised how often inspiration hits.
3. Word Triggers
One of the fastest ways to get your imagination really flowing, and to help boost your creative output, is to use word association. In the GIF image below I show a simple 5 word tree – China, Horse, Ghost, Magic and Devout. I randomly put down the first words that came to my mind and from that I build up a large tree that could create a plethora of story outline options.
Some outlines from this simple exercise include:
A murdered Chinese jockey haunts a ghost hunter, in the hope that the devout Buddhist will help him find eternal peace by showing the police the whereabouts of his body. OR
A witch and a nun form an unexpected yet harmonious partnership to help an archaeology team break free from the frightening grip of a poltergeist attached to the Terracotta Warriors they are studying. OR
A horse that saw active and bloody service during the Crimean War faces euthanasia at the end of the conflict. His rider struggles to find the funds to buy him, working multiple jobs to save the life of the horse that had saved him.
These are just very rough examples but they do show the range of options this method can open.
I’m sure there are a million other ways to get your imagination flowing but these are the ones that I’ve found work for me.
I created the mind map using a really simple and totally free software mymindmap – it’s worth a look (although pen and paper works as well) http://bit.ly/16t1jN0
Article also posted here: http://www.makealivingwriting.com/2013/08/02/friday-link-party-writers-hot-summer-edition/