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Create a playground for your imagination with these four attributes

“The impulse to create is like the impulse to breathe,” says author Rikki Ducornet, a contributor to the imaginative, playful book, Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fictionby Jeff VanderMeer.

Writing, she says, is a place to reclaim the initial impulses we are born with—to play and create and love—impulses that society tries to hammer out of us as we grow up. Our parents, and sometimes teachers, tell us to “be quiet and quit asking questions.” But as writers, we’re encouraged to ask questions and be curious. In fact, to be successful in our art we HAVE TO ask questions. 

“Wonderbook” is a playground for our imaginations filled with drawings, artwork and cartoons. The book is a visual experience that encourages our imaginations to come out of hiding. Amid the colorful artwork are lessons on creating imaginative fiction, including essays and comments from authors such as George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, Ducornet and Ursula K. Le Guin.

In “Wonderbook” you’ll find everything from ideas for nurturing your imagination to essays on structure to characteristics of a well-realized setting. Vandermeer writes that there are four key attributes that will support our imaginations:

  1. Curiosity:  Writers have to have an inquisitive nature, to be interested and engaged in the world around them. When you look at the world, try to see it from a child’s eyes to maintain that freshness and imaginative play.
  2. Receptivity:  We want to not only be curious but to be open to others, to feel their emotions, to have empathy. As writers we want to lower our barriers and get close to our fellow humans. VanderMeer says, “As much as possible, allow yourself to be a raw nerve end that internalizes whatever is experienced in life.”
  3. Passion: “Passion is the blood that fills the veins of your creative self.” If you’re not passionate about what you’re writing, why would you expect a reader to be? Passion and obsession go hand in hand in creating an enduring piece of art.
  4. Immediacy: To be a good writer, you must be fully engaged and live in the moment. Anything around us can stimulate an idea or connect us more with our emotions. We must be awake and conscious of our environment in order to feed our imaginations.

We often think of ourselves as writing to help others see the world in a new way, but how often do we think of what we are teaching ourselves about the world? By living the above attributes and incorporating them into our lives, we can keep our imaginations alive. I like Ms. Ducornet’s philosophy when she writes: “I want my book to teach me how to see the world differently.”

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