imagination games

On WritingLast week I rambled on about my love for Halloween, as well as the value of an unleashed imagination. It reminded me of something.

When I was in college, a friend and I had this game we liked to play. We’d sit on the back porch and think of movie titles and then try to come up with synonymous equivalents that were unrecognizable. One of our very best was this: “Concerning the Events of the Last Thermal Season, I Am Aware“. And, of course, the sequel: “Concerning the Events of the Last Thermal Season, I Remain in a State of Awareness“. (Follow the links if you’re coming up blank.)

The game was simple enough, but it provided us with hours of entertainment. Not only that, but it pushed my mind to keep a strong connection to that part of me that gets off on word play. It was the writer in me having a bit of trivial fun, and let me tell you, that’s not to be understated.

Like any art, it’s easy for writers to lose touch with what first drew us to our craft. Most likely, it wasn’t the desire to compose the next great American novel. Not in the beginning. No, when we first fell in love with fiction, we fell in love as readers. Really, we were just having fun. Some story caught us by the imagination and took us for a ride. We liked it so much that we not only wanted another turn, we wanted to create wild rides of our own, as well. We wanted to give to others what had been given to us.

Unfortunately, the nature of writing can be such that we turn inward. Writing is a solo task for the most part. As a result, sometimes we forget to maintain our connection with our first fiction love–the fun.

Don’t do that.

I strongly encourage serious writers to be serious about enjoying fiction. Not just because it will make you a better writer (it will), but because it will make the entire process far more fulfilling.

Your imagination isn’t a workhorse. You’re not plowing a metaphorical field. No, the goal is something more along the lines of a magical nighttime flight on the wings of some mystical creature, soaring through the air, dodging trees and skyscrapers, feeling the wind in your face as you hold on for dear life, elated and terrified at the same time. I don’t think there’s any way to tap into that kind of excitement if you’re not having a good time. I just don’t think it can be done.

So play word games. Rename movies in your mind. Take up crosswords. Download one of the 734 puzzle apps based on language. And read. Read for pleasure, and do it often.

If you can’t have fun writing, don’t do it. It’s not worth it if it’s just a chore. But if you can have fun while producing fiction, everything about your life will be better for it.

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About Ash Martin
Ash Martin writes dark fantasy and horror, has a thing for classic monster legends, Nordic mythology, coffee, and sarcasm, and is currently working on multiple books.

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