When Imagination Attacks

I admit to having an imagination feverish enough to melt good judgment.
– Dean R. Koontz, Seize the Night

It’s easy to forget how powerful a writer’s imagination can be. We tend to think of it as a gentle giant we harness to get our work done and then admire when we put it to pasture at the end of the day.

Until a single, scary thought spooks it.

What if I fail?

When faced with an unknown future, your mind automatically tries to predict what’s going to happen so it can plan accordingly.

If ______ happens, I can _____ to minimize the damage.

Unfortunately, the crystal ball you ordered never arrived. Or, it just doesn’t work. So your mind makes up possible futures based on past experience.

Here’s the catch… because you’re trying to plan for possible contingencies, your imagination spoon feeds you possible worst case scenarios. And a writer’s imagination can come up with some doozies.

Mine usually involve a pet rock, a shoe pimp and some macaroni.

You were fine a moment ago. But now that your imagination crossed over to the dark side (and dragged you with it), you’re convinced that you’re a pathetic excuse for a writer and that you’ll never amount to anything. You’re stunned. Shocked into inaction.

Thanks a bunch, Imagination. I love you too, you jerk.

Imagination is too powerful to be forcibly stopped, especially when it’s already rolling its eyes and kicking you in the head. It has the momentum; you don’t.

So, redirect it. Give it something else to focus on.

What if I succeed?

Let your imagination suck on that sugar cube. Then move on to…

How can I make that happen?

Rather than mauling you with worst case scenarios, your imagination start feeding you possibilities. And ways to make it happen.

It goes back to being your trusted friend and partner.

Like anything worth doing well, this takes practice. Learn to recognize the warning signs that your imagination is about to run amok. And then practice the art of redirection.

Take a moment to think about your end goal. How long does it take your imagination to start feeding you some good ideas?

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