It surprises me sometimes when I see the number of writing forums where people are offered prompts. Sometimes these prompts are offered to elicit pieces with a common theme. In that case, the writing is almost a creative Rorschach test. Outcomes are compared and we gain insight into the writers through their interpretation of the prompt.
Sometimes, however, prompts are offered because people lack ideas. The prospective authors need a little push, kindling to get the creative fires burning. This deficit of ideas perplexes me.
Where is the child who lacks ideas? That child does not exist. Children’s imaginations are so rich that sometimes they get lost in their imagined worlds. We may come upon them in a kind of reverie, as they entertain people, or creatures, who are invisible to us.
What happens to the child’s imagination? Does the child willingly leave it behind, or is it ‘schooled’ out of existence by parents, teachers and counselors?
It seems the effort to stultify imagination has increased in recent years. There’s no time for art, for music, for self-expression. These are trivial pursuits and are gradually being erased from school curricula.
Parents follow suit. They must prepare their children for the ‘real’ world: math, technology, science, computers. These will be the tools necessary for survival in the modern economy.
But there is something overlooked. Each of these fields is fueled by ideas. The leaders in these fields will be creatives, those who can imagine what others cannot see. The Einsteins, the Curies and the Pasteurs worked hard, but they imagined horizons beyond those that already existed.
As we prepare our children to lead rich lives and to become leaders–innovators–in society, we must not train them to be drones. They should not think of themselves as filling a mold, but as, perhaps creating a new form.
I don’t think the fire of inspiration–imagination–dies a natural death. I don’t think people, as a matter of course and a reflection of maturity, run out of ideas. I think this wonderful gift is ‘trained’ out of them.
Perhaps, if we find ourselves in need of prompts, we might retrain our minds. We might spend time doing nothing but thinking and imagining. If we give our minds a chance, we might be able to reawaken the child in each of us.