By Suzanne Y. Cordatos
Ever have one of those days when your characters run out of breath and fall flat on the page no matter long you keep at it? When my fingers sludge instead of dance on the keyboard, and my rear is shape-shifting to the desk chair, it is time to go on a road trip. Destination? Imagination.
Art Imitates Life – so LIVE! It is the best way to breathe life into your writing. Do something creative besides writing. Find a creative project at home or try one from the list below. Include family members who might feel second fiddle to your characters!
Try these and use your senses as guide: Sights, smells, sounds, textures, tastes.
Soak in any collection. People watch. Are kids curious, bored, dragged behind Mom? Is anyone sketching? Are they good? Observe paintings from a distance and close up. The woman’s hat with a ribbon? It’s a smudge of color with a curling swipe of black. Simple, isn’t it? Stop at a craft store on the way home for inexpensive supplies—and try it. How does it feel to put a paintbrush to canvas? Frustrating? Exhilarating? Do the paints smell funny? Pretend to be Monet—or one of your characters. How would each react?
Take a seat in a fine hotel lobby. Note details in elegant carpets, gorgeous flower arrangements, uniforms of desk clerks. If they serve tea, go for it. Select the best dressed guest and imagine you or your character has an appointment, or is swept off your feet. What happens next?
Where I live in New England, you can climb aboard a whaling ship at Mystic Seaport, listen to sea chanteys and pull on ropes pretending to be a sailor. The blacksmith’s ring on the anvil and mob caps of Sturbridge Village churn up historical adventures. Warm your fingers to wood fires and smell the goose stew cooking at Plimouth Plantation, or card wool in Old Wethersfield. Your hands feel soft from the lanolin in the wool.
City Park or Hiking Trail
A walk and fresh air is all you need. Listen to leaves rustle. Look for insects lugging a load. What creature might be living in that hollow tree? What if it needs a friend? What if it wants to go to outer space?
Even without a passport in hand, a Departure Board at an international airport is a great Destination Imagination. Rome? Tokyo? Toledo, Ohio? Who is going where? Business travelers with a purpose? What’s in the briefcase? Make it up. Any tearful good-byes? Joyful hellos? A family in matching T-shirts? Make up their emotional reasons. Imagine taking your characters on a trip. Where and why? Anyone afraid to fly?
If you are housebound or seriously time-crunched, close your eyes and take yourself there.
What places take your imagination to greater heights? Let us know!