[Tipster] Imagination - Faulkner's Third Bucket

tipster post Jan 31, 2022

Last week, I discussed the importance of curiosity - and how it helps us become observers of human behavior.

Observation is one of our great tools for writing.

We observe human behavior (the fluttering of your friend's eyes, for example, every time she mentions her daughter's ACT score) - and then we use that in our writing.

I quoted Faulkner:

“A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination ...

Today, I want to make a point about imagination.

Imagination with a Capitalized "I"

A friend goaded me into writing about imagination this week. I groaned when he made the suggestion.

What is there to say about imagination, other than some have large amounts of it and others have small amounts of it?

Some have imagination with a capital "I - Imagination. Others have it with a lower-cased i - imagination. I fear I have only the lower-cased imagination, small amounts.

But that's the fear of many writers. It's part of the imposter syndrome, which we all grapple with at various levels and at different junctions of our writing life.

Yes, there are the legends of Imagination:

   J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter series

   George Lucas and Star Wars

   J.R.R. Tolkien and The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings

And then there's you, the aspiring writer. And me. I'm no Tolkien, that's for sure.

The Imagination Muscle

The word imagination can mean "the faculty or action of forming new ideas, or images or concepts of external objects not present to the senses."

That's a pretty dreary definition.

But it makes being imaginative possible for ordinary folks.

We can all form new ideas and come up with new images or concepts.

In fact, we already do all that: If we come up with a new metaphor as we write, we're using our imagination.

Two final thoughts on this massive topic:

1. We have more imagination than we think we do, and

2. Imagination is like a muscle. It needs to be exercised to become stronger.

Basically, get writing.

Agonize over the very next sentence that you lay down. Write it. Rewrite it. Shorten it. Change your verb. Delete the adverbs.

Then delete the cliché (the first thing that came to your mind) and come up a fresh metaphor to say the same thing.

Your imagination is now fired up.

All you have to do is ... buckle up and write.



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