The Seed of Creation – Imaginative Writing

I’ve always wanted to document the kind of crazy imaginations that play out in my mind every now and then. When I was young, before going to bed, I’d think of something exciting, and then try to imagine an entire universe around it. Usually I fall asleep before I’m able to complete my wild journey in imagination-land (can it ever be completed?!), but it didn’t bother me as the journey was so exciting. I used to think to myself, wouldn’t it be so great if I could somehow capture all of it down and share it with others? But I knew, even then, that it will a bunch of work.  Producing anything that comprehensive in a manner that others can appreciate will probably take years to accomplish. The hard part would getting into the flow of imagination, and then writing it down, without breaking the flow or distorting the vision. To record your imagination would mean that you are not actually doing any imagining, but rather you’re recalling the imagination. In fact you’re most likely trying to phrase your words in a way that is easy to read and yet contains the essence of what you’re trying to say. While writing, the flow of imagination is easily disrupted or distorted, and it might be difficult to re-enter imagining-mode again after coming out from writing-mode. And that’s just one aspect of why writing down my dream world was so difficult then. There was also things like how writing was generally a very slow process, and some technical issues, such as not having enough vocabulary or finesse to describe the world in my imagination!

All these road blocks sort of daunted me from achieving my childhood dream. But slowly as my writing advanced, and more importantly, my discipline grew, I could write shorter narratives that covered my imaginative ambles on paper. I learned that writing is a form of organization that needed structure to convey meaning, and because imagination can be almost structureless, the process of grabbing that chaotic glob from imagination-space and neatly arranging it in legible form is one that requires a truck-load of discipline. But putting in the time and effort was worth definitely worth it. I remembered the first time I created an entire game world in my head and wrote it down, bit by tiring bit. It was inspired by the tons of real-time strategy war games that I was playing. After multiple revisions and editions, I was finally able to document the imaginary world on a notepad (the digital version mind you, my handwriting is not exactly legible at times!) and reading it was like polishing a trophy. It was my testament of having given birth to a living, breathing idea in this world. The idea of having something real and tangible that can be shared with others, was success to me, and it tasted sweet.

As a novice, there was clearly a long road for me to traverse, and this short stint would not go far in and of itself. For instance, I could see this idea being developed into a game if polished enough and a team of writers/programmers were brought in. But to bring an idea from communicable stage, to planning stage, to development stage, and then to shipping stage is actually a behemoth of a task. It requires not only money, time and effort, but also extreme dedication to the vision that you’ve started out with. Almost everything you begin doing tends to morph a little bit along the way, and left to its own devices, the creative work ends up in a very different place from where we wanted it to be. That could be both good and bad, depending on how general our vision is. To elaborate, if we have a specific vision for our work, then the slightest deviation would put it off course. That is why it is at times beneficial to keep a general vision of things that may evolve as we go along. When I considered everything, all the blood, sweat, and tears that goes into a piece of work, I could better appreciate the teams and professionals who bring us all the art and culture that we take for granted. Movies, TV shows, games, books, comics; everything came from someone’s imagination, and then through the process of laborious work, those imaginative ideas transformed into the reality that we consume without batting an eyelid. When we look back to the very genesis of all these great works of creativity, we can see that it all started with someone writing down his or her ideas somewhere. That’s why I think that exercising the basic discipline of writing down your ideas is actually a good way to prime yourself for future success in your creative work.

These days, I’m trying out a wiki-style of writing. In the process of creating a new world, I realized that there will surface many details that need to be ironed out. So if say I’m writing about a single character, I may end up writing about the function of his clothes, how clothes are made in this imaginary world, and then it may eventually lead to writing about how the economy works. It gets pretty comprehensive, but if anything, also a little crazy because the wiki-style encourages me to branch out in so many directions. Using this wiki-style of writing, I underline keywords, and begin a new page with that keyword as the title and I write about it. That way I cover new ground very fast and there is virtually an endless number of avenues to explore. While this method is useful for producing more content, it’s not that great if you want to create a serious piece of work (that is also fun!) with limited time and resources. You will have to prioritize, and that’s when you ask yourself which topics or ideas are really pertinent to the world that you’re creating. After awhile, the ideas that you throw away become as important as the ideas that you keep, and that’s when you know that your seed has already sprouted into a plant, because pruning season has arrived.

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