1Fueling Your Imagination
1Relax your mind for meditation. To be imaginative, you first need a mind that is prepared to create new thoughts. Resting your mind allows room to learn new things and be more creative. Adopt a meditation practice to calm and rest your mind on a regular basis.
- One meditation practice involves deep breathing. Suck in air and breathe out from your abdomen. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
- Another technique is to focus on different body parts, pushing all other thoughts out. Lie still and move from one body part to the next.
- Yet another technique is called mindfulness meditation. It involves getting in a comfortable position and finding a point to focus on. Continue to turn your mind toward this focus point as you sit in silence.
2Spend time with imaginative people. To encourage imagination in yourself, find people who are imaginative. Pay attention to their daily habits and imitate them. Talk to these people about your ideas to get your creativity flowing. Children tend to be naturally imaginative, for example, so they might make good company. You could also seek out artists or writers.
- Ask an imaginative person to sit and brainstorm about an idea with you. Watch their creative process. Where do they get ideas from?
- You might be sitting down to a meal with a creative person and ask them, “Would you mind letting me bounce some ideas off of you really quick?”
- Think of a project you have going on at home and ask for their perspective.
- If you’re adding a room onto your house, ask the imaginative person how they might decorate it.
- Offer to take your kids or nieces and nephews to a creative place like the zoo or a kids' play place to see their imagination in action.
3Tell stories about your life. Telling a story forces you to be creative and imagine new things. You can start with an event that really happened to you, but add fictional elements as you go along to make it more interesting. Before you know it, you will notice that you are being imaginative.
- You could try playing a story game with friends. Have a group of friends sit in a circle. One person starts by opening the story with a sentence. Each person adds only one sentence, taking turns around the circle. Eventually someone ends the story.
- You could tell a story by writing a short story on your own. Imagine you are telling it to an audience as you write to help you visualize the characters and actions.
4Develop habits of curiosity. The best way to get your imagination going is to be curious. Everywhere you go, try to think like a curious child. Act on your curious impulses. Ask lots of questions any time you are in a new place or around a new person. Touch things that pique your interest to see how they feel.
- Be like a preschooler who walks into a new situation and looks for things they don’t understand. Go over and look at items you have never seen before.
- Be bold with your questions. If there is a speaker, raise your hand and ask questions about what they are saying.
- Constantly ask yourself, “What is that over there?” or say to yourself, “I wonder what will happen if I…”
5Maintain a healthy lifestyle for your imagination. To help your mind stay clear and active, leaving room for the imagination to prosper, take steps to be healthy. If you eat a lot of junk food and lay around on the couch all day, you usually lack energy and motivation. When you are active and eating right, you tend to feel better. Being active with your body can help your imagination be active, too.
- Do healthy things like drink a lot of water, eat with other people, plan out healthy foods, take herbal supplements, and so on.
- Stay active by joining a class at the gym or getting a workout partner.
6Perform exercises to spark your imagination. To help get your imaginative juices flowing, you might consider brainstorming or doing other things to be imaginative. To brainstorm, start a list and write down every wild, creative idea that comes you. Another exercise to challenge your imagination is to take out a paintbrush and start putting strokes on a piece of paper.
- Other ideas to promote creativity include getting out crayons and a coloring book to start coloring, or even opening a document on your computer to start writing a story.
- You could also be imaginative by getting out a hammer, nails, and saw and building something with wood.
- Ask artistic friends if you can join them in their activities.
2Trying New Things
1Take up a new hobby. To expand your imagination, you need to experience things that spark new ideas. Doing things for the first time causes your brain to change shape, therefore stimulating new ideas. Taking up a hobby for the first time will engage your brain in different ways, growing your capacity to be imaginative.
- Take up a new task that requires your fingers to work, like knitting or sewing.
- Try a hobby that requires creativity, like writing or graphic design.
- Try getting out scissors, construction paper, and crayons and start making paper crafts. There are many things you can make with paper.
"If you hear yourself saying 'No' or 'Yes, but,' ask yourself what would happen if you just said 'Yes' to a new idea, instead."Dan Klein is an improvisation expert and coach who teaches at the Stanford University Department of Theater and Performance Studies as well as at Stanford's Graduate School of Business. Dan has been teaching improvisation, creativity, and storytelling to students and organizations around the world for over 20 years. Dan received his BA from Stanford University in 1991.
Dan KleinImprovisation Coach
2Go on trips to new places. You need life experience to help trigger your imagination. One way to do this is to travel. Traveling also gives you the opportunity to observe new people and places. Spend some time looking around at each new location you visit to spark your imagination.
- For example, you could sit on a park bench in a new city and watch people.
3Eat new foods. Food is a broad area for creativity. You can be very imaginative with meals. Get some basic foods at the store and go home to experiment. Practice being imaginative by putting together meals that you have never heard of before.
- For example, you can use leftover fruits in pancakes or muffins the next day.
- You can also try freezing fruit juice in ice cube trays to jazz up your water.
- Find out the basic recipe for cake and add in your own flavors and additions.
4Attend an event you’ve never been to. Recurring events like festivals and competitions in your city are always fun to attend. Take a chance on a festival that might not be normally up your alley to help you be imaginative.
- For example, try a food festival. Tasting new foods can help you be more open-minded in general. Being open-minded helps you be imaginative.
- Attend a music festival or a “movies in the park” night, even if it’s a movie you’ve never seen before. The experience will show you a different side of life.
- Go to an event for specific hobbies, like a motorcycle convention or car show.
3Looking at What Others Have Imagined
1Read books for new ideas. To help you be imaginative, it is helpful to see what imaginative people have created. Perhaps you can create similar things. One place to look for the creations of imaginative people is in books. Fiction authors have to spend a lot of time being imaginative.
- Imagination is sparked by learning. When you read, you are exposed to new ideas. Therefore reading can boost your imagination.
- Read classic literature that you have never read before.
- Also read nonfiction so you can learn, such as biographies or histories. Try reading about Benjamin Franklin, Walt Disney, or Steve Jobs.
2Watch films. Many cinematographers create narratives from their minds, just as fiction authors do. You can learn to be imaginative by watching films you have never seen before. Rent movies in genres you have never explored.
- Before selecting a film, be aware that your body may react in different ways to different genres.
- For example, you may lower your blood pressure by laughing at a comedy, but increase it by being fearful during a horror movie.
- Watch creative movies like Toys, The NeverEnding Story, or films by directors like Stephen Spielberg.
3Scan web articles. Read articles on the web to learn and grow in your mind. Tons of content is available for consumption online. This content covers almost any topic you can think of. Just type an idea into a search engine and click on a link. Seeing what others have produced can give you some imaginative ideas of your own.
- For example, if you type “imagination” into an internet search, you may find articles exploring that concept or dictionaries defining it.
4Look at magazines and paintings. Pick up a magazine and flip through it. Perhaps go to the local art museum and take a walk around. The combination of text and images can be very inspiring in a magazine or art gallery. You may even want to cut images out of a magazine to hang up on your wall. Wall hangings can be both imaginative to make and inspire you to be more imaginative.
- Pick up prints of famous paintings at the local art store. Put them up on your wall as inspiration.
- You might find Van Gogh’s ‘’Starry Night’’ to be inspirational, or Monet’s ‘’Poppies’’.
4Using Abstract Thoughts
1Develop metaphorical thinking. Learn to start thinking in metaphors. Be very purposeful when you see an object or problem to transform it into something else. For example, if you need to create a name for a product, think about what that product reminds you of rather than the product itself.
- Practice thinking in metaphors by looking at a flower, like a daisy. Think of the cultural context of a daisy or where you have seen one before.
- You may have seen little girls wearing daisies in their hair, so a daisy could represent a little girl.
- You may have heard the phrase “pushing up daisies,” so a daisy could represent someone’s gravesite.
- You may have heard the saying, “fresh as a daisy,” so a daisy could represent a beautiful woman.
2Use images in your mind. To be imaginative, it is helpful to use images in your thinking rather than language. Practice thinking with imagery instead of with words. For example, if you are solving a math problem, visualize a specific number of objects (marbles, cars, etc.) rather than the numeral in front of you.
- If you are solving a problem in physics, imagine the specific objects in your word problem, such as a car driving fast or a tree falling.
- Focus on the images of these objects rather than the numbers on the page.
3Compare unrelated ideas. In analyzing literature, you are often asked to make connections in seemingly unrelated parts of the story. Doing this in other areas of life will force you to be imaginative. For example, you may look at a plant in your garden and realize that the way it functions is similar to the way your computer works.
- You may be able to solve problems by thinking of the problems in different contexts.
- If you need to solve a problem at work, think of the problem in terms of farming or food instead.
What sort of imaginative things should I think about when trying to sleep?
Recall an old dream and try to turn it into a story in your head, with the thought that it'd be nice to fall asleep dreaming about it. With luck, through embellishing its content, you may fall asleep and dream sweet dreams!
Are there any ways to get more ideas for a fantasy-adventure story?
Perhaps the best way to get inspiration for fantasy is to read fantasy. The popular role-playing game known as Dungeons and Dragons was inspired by numerous tales, including classics like King Arthur, Conan the Barbarian, and Beowulf.
I can never think of creative story ideas for class, and none of these are helping. Any more advice?
There are only so many plots in the world, so most stories are partially based on or informed by something that was already written. You need to read books to write books. Look into history, mythology, famous novels, etc.
Ask a Question
- Always keep an open mind.
- Practice being imaginative at times when it doesn’t seem appropriate. For example, if you have to enter data into a computer, imagine different ways of doing this that might be more interesting.
- Remember to keep your feet on the ground. People who are too dreamy all the time are hard to relate to.
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