“Imagination is like a muscle. I found out that the more I wrote, the bigger it got.”Philip José Farmer, Sci-Fi Novelist
When we were kids, many of us might had the misfortune to be called up because we were absorbed in our imagination. Children need imagination for their cognitive development, emotional and social skills, but so do adults. Some of us lived up to our imagination, becoming artists and visionaries. Others left much of our imagination behind, and today struggle to be creative.
So, is creativity different from imagination?
The answer is: yes and no. Namely, with imagination we refer to our natural ability to be creative. But imagination looks towards things that do not exists. The wording itself suggests that has to do with images: we can then say that we are imaginative when we are able to see things that do not exist, with our mind’s eye.
Creativity, on the other hand, is the ability to use imagination to create something real. Think about the work of a painter, that imagines something and with that he is able to create a masterpiece.
We can achieve great things if we use our creativity in our projects. And that means that we must rediscover the power of our imagination to unleash our full creative potential.
Here’s why we can’t cut off imagination.
It is a trigger for motivation. When we start to see something and we think it is a great idea, we can’t scroll our enthusiasm away. That is because imagination is emotional! How many times it occurred that while discussing with friends about a problem, suddenly a light turned on within us? We imagine how great that our idea can be, and we feel great because no one ever thought of it. This can motivate us to start planning a project around our crazy idea and to make it into something real.
It is an infinite source of ideas. It is true that we need some reality checks along the way because we want to make our ideas real, possible. However, if we start by questioning without space for thinking we are hindering our imaginative process. We can be afraid that our idea is too crazy, or even stupid without having had time to develop upon. Critical thinking is important to make sure we can do something out of our thoughts. But it comes after. If Van Gogh would put a brake on his imagination, we would have no Starry Night.
Many inventions were created thanks to imagination. Airplanes were born because somebody thought “imagine how people could fly”. Telecommunications are possible because somebody found a way to make it real. The wheel was product of crafty hands, that in turn operated based on an image in the head of its inventor. There is no argument that we can’t be creative enough – these things weren’t existing before because no one thought of it. Yet today they are common things.
How we can reignite our imagination
When writing New Maieutic, I started by jotting down some thoughts and only later on I got the idea for the book. Outlining its structure made possible to complete the creative process. I was mindful and present while doing what I like. Finally, I tried to better understand my strengths rather than being too focused on how others do things.
Here is how I added imagination to the mix:
- Keeping a journal. Writing and doodling our ideas on paper will make sure that we do not forget about our thoughts. The act of putting on paper is per-sé the first step to put our ideas into reality and can help us develop on it. (If you need ideas on the matter, refer to (Re)introducing Journaling (with perks): part 1 | 2 | 3).
- Observing more. Ideas can come out of anything, and we know how low attention we pay to the surroundings when we go for a walk. Sometimes we can put away our smartphone and just focus on the surroundings.
- Discovering your diversity. What makes you different from the others? That could be one of the answer to your creative block. Accepting your diversity can be equal to accepting our unique strengths. I found out that getting past this problem not only enhances positive thinking, but also creativity and imagination.
What does work the best for you?