Arguably, imagination is the most import tool in a writer’s tool kit. It is used in a variety of ways by different people. However it is used, imagination is crucial to building a writer: because if you can’t imagine – if you can’t lose yourself in your characters or plot – then how can you hope to write and convey a story.There are probably as many ways to imagine as there are people on the planet so to define this tool and how you can use it is near impossible except to say that each individual must learn how to use their own.
The imagination is said to be a muscle, and like any muscle it can be worked upon to improve it’s suppleness.
By allowing yourself to dream awake you are consciously being swept up in the image and emotion of any unconscious dreams and desires you have. This is a basic prelude to more active imagination techniques explained a little further down.
Essentially, daydreaming is self indulgent and often happens without conscious control. For example you might have experienced this in a classroom where you are supposed to be listening to a teacher and learning about say history, but you lost yourself in imagining what it would have been like to be a knight: the honour, the prestige, the valour…
This is a more specific technique where you are more in control of the scene you are creating. You paint a picture in your mind, add characters and play the scene over and over until you work out all the kinks before writing it down.
This advanced technique has both the above qualities. It is more controlled than daydreaming, because you have an active role. It is however an exploratory technique that relies on the ability to receive images from the unconscious mind whilst fully conscious.
It is used in meditation and shamanic journeying and is not to be treated lightly. Neither is it easy.
Conventionally, imagination is the quality of the conscious mind to ask the question ‘what if?’ How often do you use this question to explore your ideas, and plot your stories? What about your mundane life… do you create opportunities for yourself by asking ‘what if?’