Where’s Willy Wonka When I Need Him?

So I’ve been thinking a lot about imagination this morning.

I was reading this blog post on the winner’s of Janice Hardy’s weekly contest.  This one just happened to be themed on “Story Ideas”.  And while the winners were randomly chosen, they were terrific, and I found myself wishing I had come up with them.

You see, there’s a problem I have with imagination.  I don’t have any. Yes, I consider myself a writer.  I think I’m good at writing.  What I am not good at is generating ideas.  I don’t even care if they’re original ideas – I just want ideas.  Any ideas.

People make assumptions about writers, thinking that we’re always walking around with a million stories in our head.  I’m sure that’s true for some of you. I desperately wish I could get to that place, but for whatever reason I have some sort of block. It has always been a problem. I have books upon books of writing prompts, story starters, “inspiring exercises” and what not, and while I really should use them more often, I still resent having to.  I want to to come up with ideas on my own.

Alas, I have a hard time.  I’m not sure why, as I was quite imaginitive as a child! Regardless, I’ve decided this needs to be one of my goals – developing my imagination.  While it’s good to have a quantitative goal (1000 words a day towards my novel), a qualitative one is good too.

There are some good thoughts at Mind Hacks, and they’re correct in that I need to ask “Why?” more and stop answering myself with “Because”.  Or maybe what I need to work on more specifically is how to generate ideas, I’m not sure.  There’s an issue there, regardless, so if anyone has any tips, feel free to drop them in the comments!

2 thoughts on “Where’s Willy Wonka When I Need Him?”

  1. I love this post, FYI.

    I think there is a misconception that ideas happen from nowhere, or some magical land where ideas flit around like butterflies and authors chase them around with little nets. They don’t.

    The writing prompts etc. that you have mentioned are excellent for training your brain to come up with ideas when it comes across information. And that’s key. It’s not that people who easily come up with ideas have a special place they go to, it’s that their brains are trained to take information and twist it into something new.

    Most of mine, for example, strike after reading up on something that I personally find interesting (prehistoric anthropology or the archaeology of the Atlantic Facade, for example). I read a lot of academia on these subjects, giving my brain the fodder necessary for imaginative creation. Most people call this research, but that word implies mind-numbing work to me. I really do read these things for pleasure.

    Imagination will starve if it is not fed. I feed my imagination by reading – fiction and non-fiction. A lot of non-fiction. And also some doing (experiences count for a lot when informing the imagination).

    From what little I’ve seen of your previous writing, I don’t think you lack imagination at all. You’ve done exactly what I do – taken things that already exist, and then written them in new situations with new conflicts.

    Keep up with the prompts (one of my favourite training methods is to pick a picture at random from a National Geographic magazine and then to write a short story from it. The stories aren’t really any good, but it has helped my brain). And read, which you already do.

    That’s all I’ve got.

    Wow. Long response. Sorry!

    1. Heh, no worries, long responses are great. It means I’ve got you thinking. Glad you liked the post.

      In the end I think you’re right, that I have to start ‘training’ my brain to think a certain way about things. This should be straight forward. Too bad I’m such a procrastinator, lol.

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