Finding information is all the rage with the ease and power and fun of technology. Any time we need an answer to a question, if no one knows it off the top of their heads, someone will shout, “Google it!” and multiple devices light up with action.
When I worked with a small group of teen writers recently, I was never more aware of the tendency to Google instead of imagine than in those two hours. Every time we talked about how best to write something, a kid was at his phone, seeking out the answer.
I finally had them surrender their phones, and they looked like lost puppy dogs. Forcing them to use their imaginations, I asked again for their best ideas and
It. Was. Dead. Silent.
So hooked on the internet are we that many people have forgotten what it’s like to simply wonder—and be comfortable wondering. Some questions don’t have definitive answers, and some events could have multiple possible outcomes. When we look to the internet for information, we are limited to someone else’s interpretation. Even facts can be skewed to suit the mood, need, or desire of the person supplying the information.
Possibility – Exploration – Adventure – Choices – Originality — no such thing if we only look at someone else’s line of thought. The internet can be valuable, but not when we forsake our creativity for it. You, as the supposed creator of the story in your hands, are shut out of the crafting entirely when you don’t use your imagination to its fullest potential.
Your own imagination can’t be found anywhere else but inside you. Your best ideas are inside you. Ideas shooting from other people, that’s what can be found in a “store.” Information on the internet or in other kinds of research material is available to everyone else, not just you. Store-bought information, stale like store-bought donuts.
Your imagination, because it is one-of-a-kind, is full of special meaning and provides amazing opportunities for your work. It isn’t concrete, and it’s probably difficult to pin down at times, but that’s because it is full of energy, life, voice. Your imagination is the stuff that gets us asking “what if” and seeking out new ideas or strengthening the old ideas.
But more and more, I see people losing faith in their muses, or whatever you want to call your creative center. Too many writers don’t finish their stories. Too many writers are afraid their work isn’t good enough. Too many writers refuse to seek real-time help when they need it most.
The internet creates a problem with such writers because I think it acts like a crutch. Our “need for speed” contributes to some writers being out of touch with raw imagination. Creating on our own is infinitely more difficult and time consuming than it is to search and find on a techy device.
Fear of the blank page is another reason the internet steps in. No one likes the feeling of not knowing what to say or do next, so sidearmed with a .22 caliber iPhone can help take the pressure off our mute imaginations.
Writers don’t do themselves any favors by reaching for the technology before consulting their own creative centers. Not only do they lose confidence in their ability to craft something on their own, but they end up crafting something that isn’t their own, something that never would have come out of their souls in the first place.
This week, reach for your muse before the technology. Work out your creative center fifteen minutes every day, either free writing or building on a specific project. Don’t use the internet or any kind of research tool during this time. Let creation happen strictly between you and your muse. Check back here to let me know how it goes for you!
Have a writerly day!