Once upon a time there was a…? There was a…? What was there? This is not a rhetorical question.

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I really, really, really, want you to answer me. Once upon a time there was a…? You can’t think of anything? Okay then, lets play a story game to train our imagination, have fun, and maybe win a prize!

Wait? You did have an answer? What was it? Did you tell me about a story you read when you were younger? Or was it a story you just made up, from your imagination? Was it about an animal, a small child? A princess?

What Does the Word Imagination Mean?

According to Miriam-Webster imagination is:

The ability to imagine things that are not real; the ability to form a picture in your mind of something that you have not seen or experienced.

Hmm, things that are not real, things we have never seen or experienced? This could be tricky.

I know. I know. It can be hard at times to use our imaginations. We get caught up in a world of dirty dishes, laundry, bills to pay, cars to drive, and litter boxes to clean. We forget that Peter Pan can fly, and life can be magical, because we are so caught up in the messy reality of real life. 

Why Does Imagination Matter?

Imagination is important. There are stories in our brains that haven’t had a chance to breathe. Well, maybe you don’t write children’s stories, maybe you write romance novels, or non-fiction horror. But, all of our stories need our brains to be on full alert for imagination.

Without imagination, there would be no stories. Beezus and Ramona wouldn’t have enriched out lives, if Beverly Cleary hadn’t used her imagination. Peter Pan and Wendy would never have met Captain Hook, and we would never know about the Lost Boys, if J.M. Barrie, had never used his imagination and created Peter Pan. And, something devastating to imagine; if George Lucas had never used his imagination there would be no Star Wars.

Now that would be truly tragic.  

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How To Use Your Imagination

To use your imagination think outside of what is rational. Rational thinking is that people talk and animals don’t. Rational thinking is that toys are plastic and they don’t come alive. Rational thinking is that your lawnmower will not try to stop a spoon and coffee table from moving to China.

Create worlds that don’t exist. Personify inanimate objects. Imagine how you would feel to be a spoon. What view of the world does a spoon have? What would be important to a spoon? Would the spoon care what temperature the water is in the dishwasher, or what brand of soup you buy?

“Everything you can imagine is real.”
― Pablo Picasso

In my home in the month of December, my plastic elephant, lion, giraffe, cheetah and tiger come alive at midnight. I find them in the morning after they have had an adventure. This is their third year to come alive in my house. I never know where they will be. They have made cookies, washed dishes, and ironed my napkins. This morning I found them in the dryer.

“Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.”
― Albert Einstein

Having toys that come alive is not logical. Having a spoon be a protagonist is not logical. But, who wants to just go to from A to Z, let’s go everywhere. Lets go to places that we have never seen, heard, tasted, or touched. Lets form pictures in our mind of something we have never experienced.

“Children see magic because they look for it.”
― Christopher Moore, Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal

Listen to Christopher Moore and look for magic. Be a child again and use your imagination.

Don’t listen to the advice from J.M. Barrie. He did write Peter Pan, so we know he has an imagination. But he did say,  “The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.” No, no, no. Just because you doubted you can fly, does not mean you will never fly again.

An adult who has forgotten how to fly, or forgotten how to use their imagination, can learn to fly again.

Philip José Farmer, a writer who wrote over one hundred short stories and novellas, said,“Imagination is like a muscle. I found out that the more I wrote, the bigger it got.”

Lets play a Story Game to exercise our imagination muscles.

Five Steps For The Imagination Muscle Story Game

Here are the guidelines for today’s writing story game.

  1. Your protagonist is an inanimate object in the kitchen. Imagine that the object is alive and can talk, feel, walk and think. When I walked into my kitchen a few minutes ago and asked who wanted to be in a story, the spoons were the first ones to answer me.
  2. Their side-kick, or their friend is an inanimate object in the living room.
    The inanimate object can also talk, feel, walk and think.
    My living room is still asleep. I will have to ask later.
  3. The protagonist and side-kick are going to go on an adventure.
    Check the label on your shirt. They are going to the country where your shirt was manufactured,  to the last store you bought anything at or to a pastry shop. I was only going to give you one choice, but I hate not having options so I gave your three.
    The shirt I am wearing is made in Canada.
  4. They must go out of the house through the garage.
    In the garage is the antagonist of the story. Every good story needs conflict.The Antagonist is an inanimate object in the garage.
    Remember that in a conflict the protagonist, perhaps a spoon, wants something. And the antagonist, perhaps a lawnmower, is against whatever the spoon wants.
    I only woke up a few minutes ago, so I haven’t gone in my garage yet.
  5. The two main characters, or the protagonist and the side-kick, will solve the conflict with a red, Swing-line stapler.
    My own personal red Swingline stapler has been begging me for months to be in a story on The Write Practice. “Please, please Pamela, please let me be in a story. Why did you use a paper bag last time for The Scavenger Hunt when you could have used me?” It was hard to deny the staplers request, because I do love my stapler. And it could really come in handy in a battle. (p.s. Remember to load your stapler in the story.)In the story game, the elements of each persons story will probably be different, unless we all choose a spoon, a coffee table, a lawn-mower and a trip to Canada. All the stories will have the stapler in common. A red one.

Story Game Prizes

Everyone who writes a story in The Imagination Story Game will have a chance to win a red Swing-line stapler or a spoon.

You can find the rules below. Just make sure to share you follow the rules below in the Practice section and share your story in the comments.

We will choose the winner on Friday!

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Do you have a hard time using your imagination when you write?  Please tell me in the comments. I always love to hear from you.


Follow the Five Steps For The Imagination Muscle Story Game.

This is a no time-limit story game. Take as long as you want, and, have fun. However, if you’d like to post your story in the comments section (and be entered for the silly prizes), please keep it on the shorter side, less than 500 words. Otherwise not many people will have time to read your story!

We will choose the winner on Friday.

Please comment on someone else’s story. And have a fun imaginative day!



p.s. If you are curious about the toys that come alive at my house at midnight in the month of December, you can follow their adventure on instagram @toycember, or at toycember.com. If you have toys that come alive in December too, please share pictures of their adventures on  toycember’s wall. Last night they got into the pantry and made a mess.I wonder what they will do tonight?

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Pamela writes stories about art and creativity to help you become the artist you were meant to be. She would love to meet you at pamelahodges.com.

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