There’s a famous quote by Albert Einstein that goes: ‘Imagination is more important than knowledge’. I love this quote and think he is so right. Imagination is the spark that everything else springs from. If the Wright brothers hadn’t imagined being able to fly they would never have invented the first aeroplane and we wouldn’t be flying around the world visiting different countries like we do now. The imagination comes first, the knowledge comes later.
It’s the same with stories. It’s good advice to write about what you know but even better if you can write about what you imagine and then find out what you need to know. So before you write a story, take a while to let your imagination kick in. Sit in a comfy chair, close your eyes and relax. Or look out of the window at the clouds in the sky and imagine the stories there. Do whatever works for you but forget about everything else and imagine …
A good way to start yourself off imagining is to ask 'what if...'. If you're writing a children's story you could ask yourself things like:
What if a child woke up in the morning and a dragon was sitting on the end of their bed?
What if they found a giant egg in the garden that was just about to hatch?
What if a spaceship landed in the school playground?
What if their skin suddenly turned blue?
If you're writing for adults then you could ask yourself things like:
What if the man next door dropped something as he was about to get into the car, you picked it up and discovered that he was really a spy?
What if your best friend was having an affair?
What if your partner wanted to sell up and trek around the world for a year?
What if you witnessed a murder?
These could all spark off ideas for a story.
Don’t be put off by the fact that you don’t know enough about your idea. If you’ve a story in your head about a woman who lives high up in the Alps but you’ve never been there – well, you can research it. Do you want to write about a boy who lives in a city under the sea but you don’t know anything about living under the sea? Then find out about it. Don’t let your lack of knowledge restrict your ideas. Let your imagination fly free and see what wonderful ideas you can come up with. Go on, reach for the stars!
(A version of this post first appeared on Girls Heart Books )