Friday, November 09, 2007


How do you define imagination?

Is it strictly the ability to create stories out of nothing – in other words, to construct fiction? According to, imagination is “the faculty of imagining, or of forming mental images or concepts of what is not actually present to the senses.”

A wonderful writer I know recently told me she just didn’t feel she was imaginative. I asked her if she thought imagination was restricted to fiction, and she nodded her head. Now, this is a writer with a true gift for the rhythm of language. Her words paint vivid pictures and carry powerful emotion. I was aghast that she felt unimaginative.

Imagination is more than being able to pluck a good story line out of thin air. Imagination is in the words you choose and the topic you select, even the format or genre you pick. If you and I go to a park and observe people for an hour, we’ll write a different summary of our experience. Our imaginations will take us in different directions, depending upon who we are and what we see. Even if we agree on a specific person to watch at the park, we’ll describe her with different words. Imagination grows out of our individuality, our specific experience and interpretation of life.

Don’t box imagination into a box marked “fiction.” Accept imagination into all your work, into your metaphors and personifications, into your descriptions. Recognize the role of imagination in expressing your vision. Broaden your definition to realize the full potential of imagination – bringing to life that which is “not actually present to the senses” – and realize that there are many different ways to infuse imagination into your writing.

Imagination is more important than knowledge. For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create. – Albert Einstein
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