As creatives, we are serious about our craft, hobbyist or professional. We study hard to become better at what we do. There are many great tutorials here and elsewhere on these kinds of craft based skills and techniques. However, sometimes all that serious study and hard work gets in the way of our imagination. Therefore, it is important to remember to establish a wonder filled mindset, actively seek out inspiration, and curate a library of inspiring content to reference in the future.
Inviting the Mind of a Child
“The point is to develop the childlike inclination for play.”-Albert Einstein
The biggest part of imagination is playing the part of Peter Pan. You might be 99 or you might be 12, but it is often important to imagination to be in the head space of a 5-7 year old. I’ve spent some time with 5-7 year olds and there are some great things we can learn from them about imagining.
Curiosity may have killed the cat but not people.
First of all, always be curious. Children are always asking “why?” and to the point of annoyance for a lot of teachers and parents. Their minds are actively seeking out why and how things work, soaking in knowledge like a sponge. This kind of curiosity feeds imagination as we fill in gaps between what we know, what we’re learning, and the completely unknown.
Did you ever get in trouble for pointing as a child? How about staring? I know that I did. Children are always looking at things, observing and pointing out details or experiences that we as adults have simply learned to tune out. Observation is important to art and writing as a study, and it is also important to imagination. Remembering to not only look but to see simple details like the gem-like qualities of raindrops on bare trees, give your imagination a lot of fodder.
Play and pretend.
Play is enough important aspect of the childhood mind that allows for imaginative creation. A big trick of that is having no fear of what others think of you. In other words, don’t be afraid to look silly. To be fair, this is easier to get away with as a child. I could talk to my imaginary friends all day when I was 5 and it had an air of normalcy. As an adult talking to imaginary friends all day arouses suspicion. That is hardly fair, because in the world of comics we indeed spend a great deal of time with our imaginary characters.
Find wonder in everything.
Above all else, maintain that sense of wonder and delight at little things: birds chirping, the night sky, the smell of rain, your morning coffee. The details you notice, celebrate, and enjoy creep into your work and add dimension to your imaginary exploits.