Monday we talked about the power of imagination. If it’s been a while since you’ve given your imagination free reign, you may find it hard to get started. Today I have 5 ways to get that rusty imagination going. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and I am in no way the authority on imagination. These are just techniques that help me stay out of a rut. If you have more ideas, add them in the comments – we all work in different ways and I’d love to pick up some new tricks from you guys.
1. Look at something old in a new way
There was a bush in my parent’s backyard growing up that I loved. It was just a normal bush, its base visible with leaves starting partway up and branching out. Nothing too special about this bush when you see it as just a bush. But! I found that if you laid down on the ground to get level with it, and stared at it for a while, pretending that it was a giant tree instead of a bush – voila! Suddenly I was in the wild deserts of Africa, a lone tree reaching out to shadow the land, animals seeking its shelter. That little bush provided a starting point for all kinds of stories in my head, all because I looked at it in a new way.
2. Try something different
There’s nothing better to expand your mind than trying something you’ve never done before. It gives the brain a whole new platform to work from. Get out of doing the same old thing, day in and day out . Break your routine with something different – it gives your brain an opportunity to break its routine and do something different. It doesn’t have to be anything big – something as small as brushing your teeth in a different order (betcha didn’t realize you do it exactly the same way, everytime!), or making a new recipe, or trying a new type of exercise. All these things get your brain wondering, thinking of the why’s behind the actions, and expanding what it has to work with.
3. Change your persepctive
You’ve all seen that scene in the movie Dead Poet’s Society, right? The one where Robin Williams has all his students stand on their desks to look at the classroom in a whole new way? Try that! Literally! Get yourself to a place where you can see it all from a new perspective – this goes right along with #1, just less figuratively. You’d be surprised at the things you’ve never noticed before because you’ve been looking at it from the wrong angle. For instance, I completely missed one of the cupboards that we have in our kitchen. Our cupboards are all filled to the brim and yet, even then, I didn’t realize we had one cupboard that was completely empty. We’ve never used it. It wasn’t until Terry was crouched down, spraying for ants in our pantry (they really like the coconut flakes we have in there) that he noticed – hey, there’s another cupboard right here! And you guys, this is not a hidden cupboard. It’s right next to the dishwasher, k? The point is, how much do we miss because we’ve never been in the right place to see it?
4. Kill your brain
I don’t mean that one literally, of course. That would also kill your imagination. And, um, you. I mean silence that part of your brain that tells you that’s not a good idea, or that it has to be perfect and if it’s not then you shouldn’t even try. When those thoughts come into your head, shoot them down! Talk to yourself if you have to. Say, “Self, I know you’re just trying to help. But right now we’re letting Imagination have its turn. You can have a turn later when I’m trying to decide what time I should have lunch.” Don’t let those negative thoughts take root – they are the weeds that will strangle the fruit of your imagination.
5. Move your body
When I’m stuck in my writing, my favorite thing to do is get the mail. I have to walk down three flights of stairs, across the apartment complex, and back in order to check the mailbox – which is oftentimes empty. It’s not actually the mail that gets me un-stuck, it’s the motion. Something about moving your body gets your mind moving too. You’ll be amazed at what can come to you when you’re out for a run, or vacuuming the house, or when you’re playing frisbee on the beach. Moving your body gives your mind permission to move as well.
What tricks do you guys use to get your imagination going? How do you exercise that part of yourself?