Sunday, 19 December 2010

Just imagine

What an advantage it must be to have a really fertile imagination, one that endlessly throws up new ideas without any conscious effort.

My imagination is very sluggish. It comes in random fits and starts. It can be bubbling away furiously for a while and then suddenly it stops dead and refuses to yield anything for hours on end.

This is why I couldn't be a full-time writer. I've tried to write a novel but got total writer's block after around 100 pages. Despite every attempt to get the flow going again, my imagination obstinately failed to cooperate.

Without a constantly freewheeling imagination, I'm often stuck firmly in the prosaic everyday reality, getting bored with the familiar routine but unable to transcend it, unable to drift into a parallel consciousness of tantalising images and scenarios.

I like to think that if I had a fizzing imagination, my life would taken all sorts of spectacular twists and turns that would have transformed it from a fairly predictable middle-class lifestyle to something much more extraordinary.

Not that I'm complaining about how my life has gone, far from it, but I'm sure the strength of our imagination can make a big difference to the richness and vitality of our lives.

Of course imagination has also been responsible for some of the worst horrors of human existence - nuclear bombs, Nazism, torture, slavery - but if we had no imagination at all, the world would be a grim and oppressive place indeed. Change would be impossible. We would be frozen in a permanent Stone Age.

Imagine that.

21 comments:

Wisewebwoman said...

I've always had a vivid imagination, Nick but I've never read before of someone who so longingly desires one.
And I think there is a book in that.
XO
WWW

Grannymar said...

I feel you have a book in you Nick. Why not begin with short stories. You could ask Santa to update your Muse! ;)

Nick said...

www - Yes, there probably is. An interesting idea. You've got me thinking now....

Grannymar - I've written a few short stories but it's a very difficult format to do well. I'm not satisfied with my efforts so far.

Baino said...

Ah I think it comes and goes. I know people with loads of imagination who still get writer's block but 'write anyway' until it revives. My problem is imagining the worst. Really must work on that.

Leah said...

I like what the others said, very much.

And I will say, my imagination is perhaps overly fertile, to the point where I find I'm escaping into unreality...

Nick said...

Baino - I often imagine the worst as well, particularly in the middle of the night. Though at other times I'm a sunny optimist. If only my imagination would be consistent....

Nick said...

Leah - Well, I still envy hyper-imaginative types like yourself, even it does sometimes go over the top. I'm sure getting back to reality isn't too difficult.

kylie said...

my imagination works best when it runs into my insane humour. somelittle thing triggers my imagination to say something silly then i just run with my silly idea until it's preposterous andi'm falling down, cluthching my stomach and crying with laughter

Roses said...

Planning what you're about to write helps.

If you've got a plan and you get the block, you can skip that bit and write something else and you can always come back to it.

There are very few authors who can just sit down and write.

Blogging is always my favourite excuse to get out of writing.

Nick said...

Kylie - I find the same, my imagination is often triggered by some humorous idea that takes on a life of its own. A whole wild scenario just rolls out in front of me. As you will have noticed.

Roses - I was just totally bereft of ideas, either for the next page or the rest of the novel. Actually I think many authors do simply sit down and write, that's what amazes me. It all pours out like a tap.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

My mother always said that I had an overactive imagination. It was not meant as a compliment, so I tried very hard to hide it, with limited success.

I don't believe that writer's block results from a lack of imagination, but from distraction, stress, and perhaps in some cases, even from a life which is not painful enough. You are a good and interesting writer, so just start writing and see where it goes. You may surprise yourself!

Nick said...

Heart - I've made quite a few attempts at extended writing over the years but either I get stuck or I'm less than happy with the results. I think I just have to accept my limitations!

Roses said...

Have you read Stephen King's On Writing? Definitely worth a read.

Philip Pullman, is the only author I know of who stands at the lecturn in his shed and writes without any idea of where he's going.

The rest of us mere mortals do it the hard way - planning, plotting. Not so sexy.

Eryl said...

Your imagination seems pretty fertile to me, it just sounds like you need to stamp on your inner editor. There are all sorts of tricks to keep writing, try reading the Paris Review Interviews, there are several volumes, they are my bible.

Nick said...

Roses - Thanks for the Stephen King recommendation. Worth a try. I'll seek it out. Planning and plotting I find very hard work!

Eryl - Ditto the Paris Review Interviews. Yes, I think there's definitely an inner editor at work, he needs to be immobilised.

Macy said...

Looking on the bright side NOT having a fizzing imagination never stopped Tony Parsons from basically churning out the same novel five times over.
Or is this uncharitable at xmas??

Nick said...

Macy - Xmas isn't particularly charitable anyway. There are more family bust-ups at Christmas than any other time of the year. I think quite a few authors have tried the same-novel umpteen times trick. Like Barbara Cartland. And Paul Auster.

Los Angelista said...

I think you have plenty of imagination-and you're able to write about things so consistently. You've got a definite voice. You can bust past that 100 page block. ;)

Nick said...

Liz - Gee thanks! You don't know how hard I tried to get past that 100 pages! But I shall pursue some of the suggestions in the comments above.

Megan said...

You don't think you have a good imagination? Have you READ everything in this blog?

Seriously, Nick, you could totally do it.

Nick said...

Megan - The trouble is my imagination works brilliantly in short bursts (like blog posts) but when I try any sustained, full-length writing it seizes up pretty quickly. Like an old jalopy that's only good for doing the shopping.