Do you remember when the shapes you saw in the clouds or tree branches were mystical creatures? When the space under the dining room table was a gypsy tent or a pirate ship? When exploring the backyard was a trip to a foreign land or maybe even another planet? I do, but I don’t remember how I got there.
You see, I’ve come to the shocking (especially for a writer) conclusion that I’m not nearly as creative as I used to be. I know that’s not all that unusual for an adult, but it was a jarring realization for me. What precipitated this epiphany? A few weeks ago I read Laini Taylor’s novella Night of Cakes and Puppets. I love all of her books (seriously LOVE), but this one was special. While I was reading, it gave me that feeling I had all the time as a child, that anything is possible – anything at all – and magic is real. This was the world as I used to know it.
What happened, you ask? I have no idea. And that’s why I’m here today. I’m on a quest to recapture my childhood imagination, to free my brain from the shackles of propriety life has bound it in and let myself see the magic and possibilities in life again. Reading Laini’s book really threw into sharp relief just how constrained my imagination really is, especially in comparison to hers. I’m a writer, so that may sound strange, but even within the realm of fiction, I find myself bound by certain rules of what can and cannot be done, rules that likely exist only in my head. (What’s worse, now I find myself thinking of what an audience would like or what will fly with a publisher.) I want to be free, to someday write that fantasy novel that captures the whimsy of youth for adult readers who, like me, have lost touch with their inner child.
Being a writer, the first thing I did was try to remember when I last had the feeling truly free imagination. In late grade school/early high school, I was still training (read: exercising) under the conviction I was meant to be a vampire slayer (thank you, original Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie), so I know I had it then. It was probably late high school or early college when I lost it. That sounds about right because that’s when you start to enter “the real world.”
Then I turned to my trusty friends, books, to try to figure out how to get it back. Turns out, most of the books on imagination/creativity in Amazon’s catalog fall into four categories: a) geared toward business, b) related to religion/manifestation, c) related to healing yourself from addiction/abuse or d) how to encourage creativity in your child. Nothing for adults on how to get it back. Maybe someday if/when I figure it out, I’ll write one.
I think the more you use it, the more it comes back, so I’ll certainly keep on writing. Until then, I’m going to surround myself with creative people (online and IRL), try my best and hope some of the pixie sparkle rubs off!
So where does that leave me? Asking you lovely people for advice! If you have any tips for getting in touch with your childhood imagination, please let me know!
Have you ever had a similar experience? Better yet, have you figured out how to get in touch with your inner creative child? If so, please tell me about it. I want to hear your experiences.