Challenging Your Thinking And, Consequentially, Your Writing

(Quick side note that is completely unrelated to the main topic of this blog post)

So, this blog has varied from its original purpose. I created this as a break from the writing I am forced into: essays, analysis, short answers, etc. I wanted a creative forum upon which I could write about whatever happened to float into my brain and then find out what people think about the topic, my writing, etc. But then, something unexpected happened.

Rather than covering a large range of topics whose only correlation is me as the writer, I have found myself writing almost exclusively about the method of writing myself. And yet, I don’t mind.

Writing is my passion. It is a creative outlet for the imagination that sometimes seems to be bursting out of the seams of my skull. It is only natural that the topic I like to talk about most would be the very thing upon which I spend most of my time thinking about. I don’t have many people in my life who feel the same way as I do, so this is the only place I really get to talk about it.

So, onward’s to today’s topic: imagination and challenging your natural thought processes.

First, I have a question for you. Do you dream a lot? Do you remember those dreams? For me, this is one of the major indications of how much my imagination is a major focus of my thoughts. I dream every night, without fail. And I usually remember what they are about as well. They tend to go in story format, with a plot line that my conscious mind predicts while experiencing it, and then alters into something new along a route that my subconscious decided to take. The first thing I do in the morning is tell someone about them and I usually get responses that follow along the same thread: You really dream like that? That’s so weird, how did you think of that? It isn’t intentional, it’s just how my mind naturally thinks. I like to experience new ideas and dreams are one of the creative outlets for that.

Second, I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I am always imagining things happening around me that aren’t really happening. For several months I imagined that I was someone who could manipulate water and spent my time walking, or in boredom, imagining what uses I could put it to and how I would manipulate it. Lately, my focus has changed to everyone having an animal companion that matches the type of person they are. I’ve been figuring out how we would be bonded to our companions and what uses they would have in society. My main thing is to always imagine that there is a tiger pacing beside me, leaning against me, or even just falling asleep with its head in my lap. I’m trying to make it as real as possible so I can better see the possibilities of it. None of these ideas are relevant to the book I am writing, but I don’t think that particularly matters. If you focus yourself entirely upon one idea, it gets worn out and you lose interest. So, I try to mix it up a bit within my own mind while going through the necessary motions of normal life.

Finally, when your friend turns to you, excited and happy, and says, “Guess what happened me today?” do you reply with “What?” Try to vary it up a bit. Ask if they saw an ant carrying a leaf across the pavement, if a dog walked up to them and challenged them to a game of chess, or if there was a dragon that flew by their house and dropped a golden circlet on their sidewalk. Sure, all of these answers are probably wrong, but that’s not the point of this. The point is that A: your friend probably smiled at your answer and you amused them a little B: you exercised your imagination in a new way and C: you interacted in your life differently than normal and, as a result, saw the normal life around you differently, with more possibilities. As a writer, you are expected to think of ideas that others don’t without help. That’s not exactly an easy thing to do, so you need to exercise your brain. The world around you should become one of possibility, where under every fallen leaf and behind every lamp post there is a possible story to be told.

Now, I realize that I’m probably exceedingly eccentric for doing all of the above listed ideas, and that most people don’t spend as much time in their own head as I do. So, no, I don’t think you should do all of them and I don’t think they are necessary qualifications for an author. I do think, however, that writers are people who think differently and that difference is what allows them to see a story in something ordinary. That is why I challenge you to try and expand your thought process in some way. Take some time every day and make something ordinary extraordinary. Look at the chair in your living room and tell the story of the old lady who used to own it, how she used to sit and knit late into the evening while her husband whittled figurines next to her. Pick up your pop can and picture the gnome community that makes their home out of discarded cans and bottles and how cold they get in the winter. It doesn’t have to be weird and out there, as long as you are exercising yourself. For me, the challenge is to think of the old woman in her chair rather than the gnomes. I am instinctively drawn to the fantastical side of writing so my challenge is to think of things a little more obvious. For you, it may be the opposite. Don’t be afraid to dream of oddities; very often, those are what bring stories to life.

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