Smack Dab in the Imagination: Imagination, Reverie, and Originality by Dia Calhoun

Imagination is, of course, all about images. As an author, and even more so as a poet, images are the powerhouses of my work. So how do creatives tap into a free-flowing well of images from the imagination?

It’s all about the unconscious.

As a developing species, humans perceived and processed the world in images long before we had language. A tree was a an image long before it became a word. The deeper layers of the brain still retain that way of perceiving the world. A creative artist who wants access to those images in original and free flowing ways, needs to tap her unconscious mind.

For many years I envisioned a tunnel from consciousness to the unconscious well. Now, I know there is not one, but hundreds of tunnels, some big, some small, some straight, some twisting, still others in spirals. Now I envision a sphere with many tunnels on the surface all reaching down to the Great Well at the center. Usually many of these tunnels are active at once. We just aren't aware of them.

One way that I tap into these tunnels is through semi-conscious reverie. Sometimes I do this right after waking. I drift in that state and hold an image, often from a dream, in my mind. Then I start describing it by speaking directly into a note on my phone, recording whatever comes out. Sometimes I grab a pencil and paper. Something about speaking though, allows me to stay in the creative drifting reverie more easily. I don’t edit in any way what I say or write. I allow myself to stop and start as the words an images come and go--no forced, timed writing.

Sometimes this process turns symphonic. I will say a phrase over and over, building on it, repeating with variations. Sometimes it’s pure rhythm. Only later, after breakfast, do I go back over this. First I read it aloud, then begin editing. I always preserve the original. This process has lead to some of my most original writing.

Why not try it yourself?


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