Friday, June 24, 2016

7 Ways to Jumpstart your Imagination

1.     Feed it.
Food is one of the most inspirational things there is. Think about it. The smell of your favorite food can take you places you didn’t even realize were still in your memory banks. Peanut butter toast–yes, it’s a thing--always makes me think of sitting around the coffee table with my mother and two brothers with hot chocolate on a cold rainy day. Any sparks yet?

What about taste? Sometimes when I taste hazelnut I still remember, when I was about ten, eating a bunch of freshly cracked hazelnuts. They were the best. But then my face blew up like a chipmunk’s, lumps and all. That was a wild day. Sort of makes me want to write something.

2.     Exercise it.
Do little writing exercises. One of the most popular is to just start writing, about anything, and continue for some predetermined length of time. The purpose of this exercise is simply to get you writing. However, it is also a great way to jump start your imagination. Somewhere within all that stream of consciousness is the spark of an idea for something great. Give it a try.

3.     Show it.
One of the ways I used to get inspiration for poetry and short stories was to look at paintings. I would wonder what was happening to that person at that moment, or just before, or just about to happen. Or, especially with still life, I would make up a whole world around the image. It’s a great trick. Just be sure that if you mention the art in your art, that you give credit to the artist for your inspiration.

4.     Test it.
Once upon a time, I ran a poetry challenge group. It lasted about two years. And all I did was choose one word for the participants to write a poem about or inspired by. The poems were fantastic. I even took the challenge myself every week. One word. There are a number of random word generators on the internet that you can use to get the same challenge. Whether you want to write poetry, or a story, you can find your spark in a single word.

5.     Hear it.
Many people find inspiration in music. Let me suggest to you that instrumentals may lead you to where you wish to go more quickly that listening to someone else’s lyrics. I wrote one of my most beautiful love poems listening to light classical music (designed to inspire by the way). But it doesn’t have to be classical. It can be jazz, Spanish guitar, you name it. It’s all about what you hear in the music that sets off your imagination and inspires you to write your own words.

6.     Touch it.
Close your eyes and run your fingers over objects in your immediate environment. What do they make you think of? My headphones make me think of the boys on the corner scratching their records. What is their story? Where do they hope to go? The cane in the corner has a snake’s head and a serpent’s body wrapped around it. It makes me think of a villain. And perhaps the cane is more than it appears to be. The robe in my closet brings to mind a woman in a red silk dress running down a dark street with no purse or phone--and on and on. Get the picture?

7.     Read it.

Read the local news and local magazines – like the free ones. There are always good human interest stories or oddities that could give you the jumping off point that you need to write an original work. For instance, an add about spiritual healing could inspire you to write a story/novel about an unorthodox doctor.

So, no more excuses, get out there and start writing.