“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
― Stephen King
I used to dismiss fiction. I considered it a waste of time. As far as I was concerned there was too much real stuff in the world to learn about. I didn’t have time to learn about made up places and events too.
Do you recognise that attitude?
If you spend a lot of time trying to generate new creative ideas then you may well have fallen prey to the voice inside, attempting to convince you that reading fiction is a waste of time.
If you are a muddling writer maybe you read lots of ‘how to’ books and blogs. Perhaps you’ve tirelessly researched the perfect tools; you have found the perfect desk with the ideal chair, foot support. You know everything about Stephen King‘s methods, you could talk for hours about the routines of Richard Branson, Gretchen Rubin, David Bowie, Ernest Hemingway, John Peel, Tom Hanks, and J.K Rowling.
The Productivity Trap is awaiting you. It is both physical and psychological. But it is also a fallacy and will burn you out. It is two-dimensional, and focuses only on how things are done. It goes no further.
The Third Dimension
Imagination is the third dimension. It takes us through what we see into the world beyond it, the world which is as yet unknown to us.
Stephen King once said, “fiction is the truth inside the lie”.
The same can be said for imagination. Our imagination presents the truth beneath the lie. If we are to really test our steel and to take our creative work to new levels it is so important to expose our minds to the third dimension.
Your imagination is stretched by exposure to the imagination of others. Why has technology developed so rapidly since the industrial revolution, and especially, since the advent of computers? Because…
…Imagination sparks imagination.
What is possible? Where can we go? What can we acheive? These are all questions of the imagination within the boundaries of the results acquired by previous imagination. This is why it is hard to believe that we were once unenlightened about things like the world being spherical. Once an imagined world/theory becomes reality/evidence based it becomes impossible to imagine the world prior to it.
Over the past few years I have read more fiction and have found my imagination and creative projects benefit in so many ways. One of the benefits is the very reason I used to actually lack interest in fiction; learning how to write.
As you read you learn. Fiction is three dimensional because it offers the learning experience of non-fiction with an added dimension of imagination. Through reading fiction you not only learn a story, you learn about your own imagination, and you learn how to write; about places and situations that draw you in, and characters with whom you can identify.
Even narrative techniques and devices, writing style and language. When you read fiction your mind is stretched in all directions.
Good fiction allows you to dream. You enter another world, you become a part of it, and it becomes a part of you. It latches onto your imagination and pulls it in all directions.
When you read fiction it moulds your brain and leaves it never to return to its original shape and structure. The world of your dreams, your imaginings, the narrative around which the truth is concealed, is re-constructed. Even your memories can become re-imagined as they are influenced by the new connection.
Imagination is absolutely vital to problem solving, to making new discoveries, and having profound insight. Without it we are stuck with only those things we can see, smell, hear, taste, or touch.
Can you imagine such a world? Is there any more evidence required to show that we are in fact all creative beings?
For me fiction has turned from being an irrelevance that I don’t have time for, into the most important things that we have as a species. The imagination is the support system of life itself; story and narrative bring both meaning and structure to our experience and progress.