In the past I’ve written about the workings of a vivid imagination, in particular my own vivid imagination and the way I am able to ‘edit’ my own dreams in that stage between sleep and awake (you can read about the inner workings of a vivid imagination here). This led me to the understanding that in some ways I have always been a writer, whether I have been physically writing or not (you can read You Know You’re a Writer When… by clicking here).
Recently I came across a quote in my Facebook newsfeed that got me thinking again about the ability that children have to creative and imagine,
“Being a writer is just a way for grown ups to keep their imaginary friends.” – Brian A. Klems
Despite a child’s ability to create and imagine entire worlds, places, beings and even best friends, somewhere along the way from childhood to adulthood many (if not most) of us lose this creative ability.
As far as I can recall, I never really had an imaginary friend as a child, my cousin did and of course anytime she was in trouble it was the imaginary friend’s doing and not hers (although she still copped the punishment I’m guessing). I did however imagine and create worlds filled with people and creatures, so I guess in a way I had imaginary worlds, not friends. My backyard became a dark and scary wood, my friends cubby house was a castle and our baby brothers were the dragons trying to attack the princesses or whatever the theme was on that day. The characters we played in our role playing games had background stories and so did their imagined enemies, every element was thought out and every detail imagined. As I got older, I never really lost that ability to imagine and create worlds and characters, however trying to put these “imaginary friends” and worlds into words is somewhat more of a challenge. To attempt to convey the images and characters in your own mind to your audience is always a challenge. Creativity and a vivid imagination is the foundation of writing fiction perhaps, but becoming an accomplished writer who is able to convey the world of their vivid imagination and draw their audience into that same world is something that will take a considerable amount of practice, revision and editing I’m sure.
Whilst I haven’t had a lot of time to work on Lonely Hearts lately, the world and the characters I’ve been creating are never far from my mind. I imagine what the characters see, hear, feel and say in their 1930s world, I imagine how their experiences of The Great Depression and other experiences in their lives have shaped who they are and how they view the world around them, the world of 1930s Sydney, Australia.
The ability to imagine and create is something that should be cherished and encouraged from childhood, through adolescence and into adulthood. A world without imagination or creativity is not a world that I would wish to be a part of, nor would anyone else, I think. The day we stop creating and imagining is the day in which we cease to exist, every day I am thankful for my own creativity and imagination and for the imagination of the wonderful authors whose writing I enjoy to read. Writing and reading is not just a way to “keep their imaginary friends” it is a way to escape, to explore, to travel without even leaving the room you are in.
So I encourage you all to imagine, to create and to explore and if you feel so inclined, to write down these imaginings, even if only for yourself to look back upon one day.
When I first started teaching, we taught writing according to text types. So we taught children the specific structure of a narrative, a procedure, an exposition and so on. Recently though we are told that children learn to write best when they are allowed the freedom to “write what they know”. Whilst this is an often debated teaching strategy (which I’m not going to get into), by allowing children to “write what they know” we are encouraging them not only to write, but also often we are encouraging them to indulge in their own creative imaginings, whilst their writing may not be structurally perfect, the idea of getting them to simply convert their ideas into written words is definitely one of great value.
I guess what I am trying to say is, through encouraging children to “write what they know” we are also perhaps encouraging the continued development of imagination and creativity, perhaps also effectively lowering the risk of these abilities disappearing as they become adults.
Something to think about perhaps.
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