Wordsmith Wednesday–Cultivating Imagination


Children play

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Growing up when I did–a long, long time ago–I had abundant opportunities to cultivate my imagination. The games we played as children could not depend on media or even toys…with rare exceptions. Kitchen utensils and tin cans, my mom’s broom and a few cardboard boxes were all I needed to play house. I baked mud pies and used small swatches of material to make clothes for my doll. Sticks became arrows and we kicked a can. It was a wonderful childhood that provided plenty of exercise and ample opportunity for developing an active imagination.

Then along came adulthood. No more room for flights of fancy or escapes into other cultures…except perhaps in between the covers of a good book when there was time. Television took over relaxation and it was so easy to slip into modes of passive entertainment.

But for us, as writers, an active imagination is as important as pen and paper or a computer and keyboard. How often are you able to time travel to the Tudor era or the American West or hop a quick flight to Bangalore where your character may be following a lead on the tail of a criminal? Or, what if, you’re writing a scene in the middle of a blizzard while it’s 90 degrees Farenheit outside? We have to be able to mentally, emotionally, and physically transport ourselves to these times and places. We want to be able to think “outside the box.” Those of you who write Sci Fi even have to transcend dimensions.

So for this week’s post, I’m going to offer a few exercises to help flex your imagination muscles and then I want to ask you to either offer up an exercise of your own or share your response to one of the exercises that one of us posts. Or both. Go ahead and get in touch with that inner child and play!

Exercise I.
You are a small dog. How do you experience the world around you? Choose your own setting and characters.
Exercise II.
You are a reporter called upon to interview a great religious or political figure? Choose your own interviewee and describe one or two questions you would like to ask and their response to your question. Include setting and body language if you want.
Exercise III.
You live in (choose a country you have never visited). Describe the scents and tastes of the foods. This may take a bit of research.
Exercise IV.
You are dying and cannot speak. Who is with you and what is said?
Exercise V.
It is the opposite season of wherever you are now. Describe the scene you would see outside.

I’m anxious to see your response and I hope to use one of YOUR exercises to strengthen my own power of imagination. Now, go play.

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16 thoughts on “Wordsmith Wednesday–Cultivating Imagination

  1. dragonkatet says:

    🙂 go play, indeed. As I was reading your words, I was thinking that it’s similar to what actors are told to do…to get into character, they must transport themselves into the character’s body and use the imagination to “become” that person. To do that takes practice, and being able to use the power of ‘recall’ to pull forth the emotions. I think it could be useful for writers, too, to pick a memory which brings forth a certain emotion, in order to “become” the poem, or prose, etc. Strong scents and even music can aid in remembering. I guess you could call it an exercise in memory – pick a scent or piece of music and see what sort of memories or perhaps new images it arouses, and then set it down to paper.

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  2. Here is something about a place I’ve never been … I must say, it was quite a research to reach the final destination!

    http://brokensparkles.wordpress.com/2011/05/29/hyderabad/

    Thanks for your little games Victoria, have a good weekend!

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  3. Bodhirose says:

    I knew immediately who my interviewee would be. Here’s my link: http://bodhirose.wordpress.com/2011/07/15/buddhists-today/

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  4. mish says:

    These are very interesting exercises . Here is an exercise that I find to be very challenging yet stimulating :
    Take a sentence at least 10 words long , from anywhere . Then use each word in the sentence as the first word of a new sentence to create a paragraph .
    Happy writing !

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    • Very fun exercise, Michelle. Got to give it a try. I suppose you could use it to create a poem as well. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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    • Mish, I love this idea and am actually working on a poem using this exercise. It needs a lot of refinement but am looking forward to using it along with your idea for a Monday Morning Writing Prompt. (I don’t think it will be ready this week though)

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  5. Fiducia says:

    Creative…!! Real depth that of a writer who thinks beyond..need to try one!!

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  6. I feel like I’m cheating, but I already did interview Mary Magdalene, and she is the person with whom I would most like to speak:
    http://sharplittlepencil.wordpress.com/2010/07/04/a-seeker-speaks-to-the-magdalene-big-tent-prompt/

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  7. timkeen40 says:

    You have sparked a story in me. I must thank you! My gift is not of poetry but of composition. It will tak a bit to finish. I will share it with you when I am done. And thank you!!!!!

    http://timkeen40.wordpress.com

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  8. Wow, Brian, this is so powerful. It seems like the words just flow from you. I only posted this a few minutes ago, it seems. Thank you for sharing.

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  9. brian says:

    knub of a pencil,
    it scrawls across the paper
    gutter-ing at the edge
    so much left said
    yet all i can muster
    in passing breath
    a heart for ones to sheet
    my hollow eyes

    lopsided, the heart
    for my family.

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