Pursuit Of ImaginationAlbert Einstein said that creativity is imagination having fun.  George Scialabba said: “Imagination is intelligence having fun.” So, fun is a necessary ingredient for imagination?  Most of us have learned that “fun” is immature, trivial.  Successful people are mostly serious.

They focus on work instead of wasting their time on frivolities.  But “fun” can have a deeper meaning.  It can be color, humor, passion, lingering smiles, or sounds of laughter. It’s what injects life into this world.  Without it we’d live a dull and depressing life.

The unconscious mind

The unconscious mind is a source of unfiltered, pure thoughts and ideas. This mind has not been influenced by social standards or need for acceptance..  By tapping into the unconscious, you open up a box filled with artistic originality, dynamic thought patterns, and those simple ideas that could change the world.

To pursue imaginative thinking, we must cultivate habits and tools that enable us to tap into our unconscious mind, let go of preconceptions, and ignite our creative process.

Children, in fact, partake in these habits daily without realizing it, until they are told to grow up and live consciously.

I have made a list of a few ways that can free your unconscious thoughts, allow your imagination to wander, and enhance your creative thinking process.  The rest of this chapter explains these concepts and offers examples of each. You can use the exercises daily.  Lets get creative:

  • Free associate
  • Acknowledge pain
  • Turn automatic pilot off
  • Ask questions
  • Give yourself inner permission
  • Observe, empathize and don’t pass judgment
  • Remember and recapitulate
  • Tell stories
  • Take time to think and daydream
  • Listen radically
  • Give yourself the freedom to do it “wrong”
  • Steal from everyone
  • Don’t run away from resistances
  • Improvise in your mind
  • Think out loud and read out loud
  • Never stop learning
  • Spend time with art, nature and children
  • Surround yourself with people who have feelings
  • Acknowledge mortality
  • Take responsibility for your obsessions
  • Test your ideas
  • Don’t stop until you come up with something
  • Follow impulses
  • Tell the truth, life’s too short to live a lie

Free Associate

“We all have in our conscious and unconscious minds a great vocabulary of images, and I think all human communication is based on these images, as are our dreams.” – Tennessee Williams

The root word of imagination is “image”. The process of imagining is making associations.  Advertising bases a lot of success on associations. Think about the countless jingles, colors, and logos that remind you of one specific brand.  For example, take one look at the swoosh sign and you’ll instantly think Nike. Yet, in order to be flamboyantly creative, you need to free your mind from these socially dictated associations and create your own.

An imaginative person makes his own associations and allows his mind to amble into realms that others may see as too dreamy or risky.  When he looks at the clouds, he can see a fire-breathing dragon.  When she smells perfume, she visualizes herself lazing in a field of lavender.  For a person of strong imagination, the sound of a firecracker may conjure up a dramatic Mafia stand off.

Children do this naturally. They play with imagination and learn to use their minds creatively. They don’t self-sensor or give in to expectations. As adults with more life experience, if we kept this state of being, we can enjoy a much richer imagination.

The most successful writers and directors fill their works with creative imagery –as opposed to mechanical or forced.  A good writer can transport the reader to a scene by descriptions that employ the reader’s imagination.   The great director, Martin Scorsese, uses his image-filled palette to make connections to the actors and his audience.

Free associations can become a practical tool for the artist. Bob Dylan described his process of writing the song “Highlands” as follows: “It starts off as a stream of consciousness thing and then you add things to it. I take things from all parts of life and then I see if there is a connection, and if there’s a connection, I connect them. I learnt a long time ago to trust my intuition.”

You can expand your ability to free-associate with exercises on your own. This will aid in identifying metaphors and images, especially in script analysis.  It’s easier than you think and can yield amazing results.

Begin with a word, read it and write the first word or phrase that comes to your mind.  Now do this process for the new word, and so on.

Here’s an example:

Sunflower – Van Gogh – bleeding ear – the bleeding of color on my final art portfolio at school – red bricks and green fields – the feeling of freedom – cold air against my face – soft white tissues – my mom’s continental pillows on the lounge floor in front of a heater – steamy sauna – salty sea residue on my body and back to sunflowers sent by an unsavory love interest.

All that came from one simple word. Using more emotive words can lead to unveiling painful memories or create the most powerful of scenarios. These scenarios become the foundation of an original creative piece of writing that will capture your audience.

Try a few everyday words and then move on to something closer to your heart. There are no rules as to how long your stream should be.  Set your mind free and just write until you feel the need to stop. Then read it over and let the creativity of potential plots and stories wash over you.

Acknowledge Pain

“I don’t think anyone is interesting to look at or listen to unless they’ve had their hearts broken, you know? Especially funny people.” – Jim Carey

Another term for free association is stream of consciousness. This is a tool that can unleash your inner truth.  It is truth that we respect and ultimately find interesting. We are bored by people who constantly carry on about trivial things or create a “masked” stream of conscious, people that hide from their truth and tell you what they want you to hear.   Contrary to the pretenders, the best comedians find humor in true personal, even painful, experiences.

Our pain is what makes us real and differentiates us from mindless robots. By using your pain in stories about your life, you immediately engage with your audience.

Writers, directors, actors, painters, and musicians connect with people through artistically revealing their true selves; therefore revealing their hurt, loneliness, and humiliation – in essence their pain.