Did you ever look at the clouds on a nice day in the sun and try to see things in them? Writing is like finding shapes in the clouds. There is nothing, there is randomness, nebulous wisps…and then suddenly you see the shape. All you need is that one shape. A whole story can flow from it. You see a sailboat…where is it going? Who is on it? You see a man…how old is he? What does he do for work? Who does he love? Who does he hate? Does he have a sailboat? Answer those questions and you have the beginning of a story.
Imagination flowers in the strangest places and ways. Sometimes I need music to be blaring through the headphones to clear out my mind so the ideas have room to grow. Other times I will sit quietly and crochet. The repetitive nature of crocheting seems to let me think more clearly. Once I was waiting for a bus, staring at the street in front of me, and suddenly had an idea of how to fix a problem in the book. I think the trick is to have some empty space in the mind. A time when other stuff isn’t crammed in there taking up all the room. There needs to be space for an idea to blossom. Just be sure to keep a notebook handy. That time with the bus, I was rooting around in my purse and finally wrote the idea down on the back of a grocery receipt.
Depression can hamper imagination. It is like a heavy blanket over the mind, smothering the ideas that try to struggle out from under it. Depression turns everything gray. There is no color. For me, ideas need not only space but also light so their colors can shine. Like my photo of the sky in this post, ideas flourish in that wonderful blue. However, that is not to say that you can’t have inspiration on a rainy day! Many a time I’ve used the pouring rain outside to spur my imagination onward. Treacherous deeds, matters of love, all find their way through the gloom of a rainy day onto the page.
Mostly I find that questions are the catalyst to imagination for me. If I can ask enough questions about my characters or their situation, and then answer those questions, I’m more than halfway there. That’s why every time I try to write an outline it ends up as a series of questions. Sometimes I’ll find that I have a series of questions I can’t answer. That’s when I know I’m getting off track and need to rethink things. Actually, that is why I’m blogging at the moment instead of writing!