An Easy Way to Rescue Your Imagination


in Creativity

This time of year, with its short days and the relentless bustle of preparation for the holidays, sometimes leaves me feeling depleted and uninspired. My creative self feels dull. My imagination non-existent. Getting to this point is almost always a sign that I need to slow down. To notice my surroundings. To see what is actually going on in the world. And, to let my imagination come out to play.

One of my favorite ways to re-engage my imagination is to pretend that I write novels and actively look for inspiration by observing the details of the people and things that cross my path.

Take these examples…

The neighbors have painted their front door a shocking shade of purple that gets my attention a block away. What conversations went on in that house before the color was chosen? Was it intended to honor the husband’s favorite college football team? Or did it remind the wife of the lavender fields in France the summer they went on their honeymoon?

Standing in the line at Starbucks, I notice an older woman sitting at a table. She is beautifully dressed in muted shades of blue and wearing gorgeous glittery earrings. Her white hair is perfectly styled. She is alone, sipping her drink. Why is she here? Is she meeting her daughter for a quiet hour of good conversation? Has her husband of 50 years recently passed away and coming to Starbucks is a way to ease her loneliness?

Driving on the freeway, I catch a glimpse of a Jeep sporting a curious shade of green – a cross between a lime and an olive rolling around the bottom of a martini glass. Even more curious, is what seems to be a rifle attached to the hood. Is that really a rifle? What if it were? What kind of person drives that vehicle? What if it were a woman? What if she led hunting expeditions?

If you really want to stimulate your imagination, practice doing this for a week. Take the time to consciously notice what is going on around you. When you are on the bus. Standing in line at the grocery store. Dropping books off at the library. Picking up the mail.

Create stories and conversations around what you see. Even better, write it down in all its glorious detail. Become the master of the vignette.

Trust me, your imagination will thank you and you will be surprised when you realize how much you haven’t been seeing as you make your way through your daily round. You might even find that you are having so much fun that it becomes a habit. A creative, imaginative habit.

Go ahead, pretend. Replenish your inspiration. Rescue your imagination.

Notice. Be curious. Comment. Subscribe.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Sandi Amorim December 6, 2010 at

One day I sat at a Starbucks for a couple of hours doing exactly what you suggest. Came away with a notebook full of ideas and a great people watching experience. I’ve found that noticing the world around me is the best way to get out of my own head!
Sandi Amorim recently posted..How to Stop Singing the Blues


Andrea December 6, 2010 at

So fun, isn’t it? You never know what you are going to see or where your mind is going to wander. :)


Leisa LaDell December 6, 2010 at

Andrea – Great post. I bet you may be interested in the work that my friend @timenative (aka Barak Rosenbloom) does. He is a thought-leader in Curiosity. His tag line is Notice, Get Curious. Play. : )
I am working with him on a soon to be released e-book, on using curiosity to get power around time and how we use it. Very cool stuff.
Leisa LaDell recently posted..52 things I know about words and you should too 4 Words Elevate


Andrea December 6, 2010 at

I love that, Leisa! Keep me posted on that … would like to know more.


Kasia December 6, 2010 at

Thanks for this great reminder of how to increase our cheer and stay out of the funk that sometimes comes up when it’s dark and cold. I love this time of year for the most part, although getting organized has been a lengthy process this time. I think I’ll use this technique to write my own story about how I did it!


Andrea December 6, 2010 at

What a great idea! Why didn’t I think of that? Thanks, Kasia!


Ronna December 6, 2010 at

It’s really no wonder your daughter has the imagination she does. It is modeled for her – beautifully, brilliantly – on a daily basis. Thank you!

Just this morning I was reading, “On the Art of Directing Film.” As you well know, I’m no film director, but the book was recommended by Patti Digh and speaks much of how our imagination is at play in the creative venture – whether film, directing, producing, writing, being! Good stuff.

As always, you inspire my thoughts in a multitude of ways.
Ronna recently posted..A bottomless glass of champagne with no hangover


Andrea December 6, 2010 at

I need to check out that book … sounds like something I would love. Thank you, as always, for your insights!


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