Writing Exercise: Imagine If…

Recently I talked about keeping a writing journal. No matter what form your journal takes, you should write in it every day. Today, I’m offering you an exercise to wake up your imagination.

Whether you write action-packed thrillers or B2B white papers on process improvement or something in between, you must be able to imagine something that is not. It’s the definition of creativity. Your brain needs to be adept at making unlikely, but real, connections no one else has thought of before.

Imagination and creativity bring life to your words. Help convince the buyer that your product is worth the money. Keep your reader engaged throughout your story. Convince them that you know what you’re talking about and they should buy your research.

The following exercise was inspired by my children, who have imagination to spare (I should rent it out) and who often start a conversation (read: monologue) with, “Imagine if…” And, yes, they helped conceive some of the following statements.

Imagine If…

Take one of the follow statements and go with it. Imagine it and write it. What would happen next if the situation existed? How would the world be different? Don’t think too hard about it. The point is to get those neurons firing. Shut off your internal editor for this exercise. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar. Normal rules of reality need not apply.

Imagine if…

  • Everything in the world was made of Legos.
  • Your house flew away to a land far, far away.
  • School was run by children and adults were the students.
  • The axle had never been invented.
  • You could have a face-to-face meeting with God.
  • You found the leprechaun’s gold.

Here’s one my 8 year old came up with (based on a school assignment):

If I found the leprechaun’s pot of gold, I would taunt the leprechaun all day, then I’d lock the pot of gold in a safe, pot and all. Then I’d go to the store and see what they have for rat cages. I’d buy the perfect cage and lock the leprechaun up in it. Then I’d drill through the crust of the earth until I get to the mantle. Then I’d hang the cage, with the leprechaun in it, on a wire above the hole. Then, I’d lower the cage a bit. Then I’d drop the wire and watch the little leprechaun fall into the lava pit. Last, I’d spend half of the gold on all the LEGO Agents sets in existence and keep the rest as a secret hoard.

My son thought beyond what he’d spend a pot of money on to how he’d keep it. Clearly he exercises his imagination regularly. He’s got some great details in there, like going to the store to get the rat cage. It doesn’t just appear out of thin air.

See if you can reconnect with the child you were to imagine the impossible. The more you practice, the better you’ll be able to come u with creative solutions in your writing. None of these inspire you? Write your own impossibility, in or out of your normal topic range.

Challenge other writers and put your “Imagine If…” (a new statement or your solution) in the comments below.

Send me a photo of your journal and a link to your site, and I’ll publish them in a follow up post!

About Erin Brenner

With a BA and an MA in English, Erin has been an editing professional for 15 years, working on a variety of media, especially online. Her niche is business/marketing and online. In addition, she has experience teaching editing to non-editors and coaching writers. In 2008, Erin was bitten by the social media bug...hard. Follow her on Twitter, @ebrenner, and get a daily vocabulary word, a link to the article of the day, and much more. You can also find her on Facebook and LinkedIn.
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