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Thursday, July 23, 2015

10 Tips to Exercise Your Imagination

Peter Leavell, a 2007 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history, was the 2011 winner of Christian Writers Guild's Operation First Novel contest, and 2013 Christian Retailing's Best award for First-Time Author. Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho.

Our minds destroy the planet in one moment and save humanity in the next.

Or, we write a scene of death and torture, thievery and mischief, just before we go to church and worship an ever-loving God.

Yeah, we’re writers. We’re messed up.

Our imagination is our weapon of choice, and if we don’t keep our mind honed, we’re missing out on our potential. A few tips to expand your mind

1: Solving problems—our specialty. Like a solitary chess player, the mind is divided between two equal opponents. Guy/Girl, Bad Guy/Good Guy, Happy/Sad, Bad Situation/Good Situation. Practice getting a character into problems you have no idea how to extract him or her, then think, think, think. Get your character out! No worries—this isn’t a math story problem. So no tears.

2: Imaginations soar. Let it go! (My 12-year-old daughter is singing in my head right now.) Take time to reflect. Think big. Think bad. Think gloriously.

3: Dig. Dig through books. Dig fiction and nonfiction. Dig YA and dig philosophy no one understands. Dig poetry and plays. Digging books expands your mind.

4: Observe. Watch others carefully. What depths of good or bad are humans capable of? Or depths of feeling? In a café, I watched an 8-year-old boy in the corner booth crying. Not tears of a tantrum, just red eyes and tracks down his cheeks. Quiet suffering. His parents and grandparents ignored him. Listening, I learned his grandfather sitting next to the boy was going into surgery the next day, and they were discussing odds of survival. My heart broke for the lad, giving me a new depth to my own emotion.

5: Tell stories. But verbalize them. Make your tale as entertaining as possible—perhaps funny or intriguing points of views. Verbalizing good stories is great practice.

6: Be curious. Ever curious. And satiate your curiosity. I’m reading about clouds right now.

7: Balance rest and exercise. Come on. You’re a grownup. You know how your body works by now. Maximize your potential by exercising and eating what’s good for body and mind.

8: Hang out with exciting/interesting people. They fuel your imagination!

9: Brain synapses are important. Synapse is how information passes through the brain. Getting the left and right hand side of the brain to talk with each other is vital. I memorize poetry and recite. Then write. When I grow weary, I juggle—passing the tennis balls from the right side of my body to the left gets the two sides fired up and talking.

10: Learn math. Sigh. So you don’t have to make up a point when the title says ten points. You never know, it may help with problem solving, even if there are tears. (small, humble text)

Maximize your potential! Keep your mind humming!

By the way, two months later, in the same café, a grandfather with a walker sat at a table with a happy 8-year-old boy.

What do you do to maximize your imagination's potential? 


  1. Peter, you crack me up. Small text indeed! LOL I like #8 best, even if I don't know them. I've gotten very good at clandestine eavesdropping.

  2. Ha! Ane, my wife and I will be talking in a restaurant, then she'll pause mid sentence and say, 'Did you just hear that?' Then she'll tell me about the conversation behind her. How does she do that???

  3. It's a secret ability we women have. :) We can actually listen to two conversations at one time!

  4. "By the way, two months later, in the same café, a grandfather with a walker sat at a table with a happy 8-year-old boy." Thank you for this. Had me in tears with the first account.

    Keeping that mind challenged is important, but juggling is definitely out. Unless I want to break things and clean up the mess . . .

  5. If you try juggling, Nicole, PLEASE video it for us!

  6. Don't count on it, Peter. :)

  7. Like Mary Poppins you give the medicine with a dose of sugar. Thanks, Peter, for softening the gentle reprimands. Good ideas all--well except no. 10. So glad grandfather was able to join 8-year-old. Have you made friends with them yet - or are you just stalking. :-)

    I'm with Nicole. Juggling is left to my coordinated kids. (Have you seen the comedian on America's Got Talent who stutters? that's me - juggling with tremors would make a great act!)

    Mary Kay

  8. Ha! I'm just an emotional eavesdropping trill seeker. Thanks for stopping by, Mary Kay!


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