Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Fantasy: The Key to Creativity

Can everyone say, “Wow!” Yes, it finally happened. I am online. My computer is working. My calendar is on the right date. And I know that the date for my blog is here. If I didn’t need to type a few words, I’d fall over. But no time for that. I have a new release in February 2015 and I need to start promoting.

I thought it might be fun to hit on a topic near and dear to me and a course I used to love teaching about creativity. It deals with one of the greatest forces any fiction author can master. Fantasy.

Profiting from Fantasies

Fantasies are the lifeblood of fiction writers. Through them, our readers escape reality into the worlds and lives of the characters we create.

Researchers estimate that billions of people the world over spend up to half of their waking lives in fantasies. In our cyber/media-blitzed world, it’s almost impossible not to fantasize. Spontaneous “visions” zip in and out of our minds like movies despite what is going on in the real world around us.

Fantasies are not daydreams. Fantasies are much more elaborate. They contain complex scenarios and plots. The details are more finely developed, and we consciously move them forward and sometimes participate in them. Daydreams, on the other hand, are more fleeting. They are simple scene our minds conjure up over brief moments to alleviate boredom. We can turn our daydreams into fantasies by consciously pushing them forward and expanding on them purposely through our imaginations.

For people not quite so adept at developing their fantasies, fiction writers play a crucial life service. We give them our fantasies and help them escape the real world, cope with stress, and provide recreation.

Some people can become so involved in our fantasies that they do not just passively watch a story unfold in their mind. They actually experience the feelings of joy, pain, pleasure, sorrow, etc. If we as writers do our jobs well enough, reading our words can actually make individuals shiver with cold and cry with sorrow.

We are in essence providing fantasies for people who have difficulty cultivating their own imaginations. By doing so, we are contributing to their psychological well-being and society as a whole.

The Truth and Suspending Disbelief

Almost every fantasy contains truth on some level. These kernels of truth help our readers buy into the worlds we create and the characters we put forth. They allow us to build on what someone already knows and accepts. From a seed of truth, they can follow our heroes and heroines on their journeys and adventures to Never-Neverland.

As such, research is a writer’s best friends. We can’t create a world of knights and dragons if we know nothing of their world. We can’t create realist worlds without gravity if we don’t understand G-force. A little research is sustenance to a writer’s minds. Not only does it allow us to create realistic other-worlds, it also sparks ideas for future fantasies.

The difference between us and all the other fantasies-prone people in the world is that we are willing to share ours. And if you’re like me, you hope to do so for profit.

Save Your Marriage

The divorce rate would drop drastically if more people would take a fantasy break every day. Fantasizing about arousing situations with our partners adds a little sizzle to the day. Don’t censor these fantasies. No one experiences them but you–unless of course you’re a writer and erotica is your thing.

Fantasies are a free method of tapping energy to power sexual desire. I once laughed when a physician friend told me he subscribed to Harlequin romances for his wife. He said they gave her all kind of ideas, and he had his own international playmate. They’ve been married now for thirty-seven years and I’m no longer laughing.

Encourage Your Children

When children hit the age of two, they start developing their imaginations and engaging in fantasy play. Through their imaginations, they “play at” different roles and learn to understand other people’s behavior. They usually start by playing “mama” or “daddy.” And their imaginations grow from there.

In a fantasy world, children can learn to deal with fears in a safe environment. I cannot stress how important pretending is to the growth and development of a child’s well-being. Some parents worry when children invite imaginary friends to dinner or talk to themselves in their rooms at night. There is no need to discourage this behavior unless it’s actually interfering with their progress in school or impedes developing social skills.

From the ages of seven to ten, the fantasy play of early childhood is internalized. It becomes an increasing part of the child’s personal fantasy life. These children are still using fantasies. They are just not making them known to others.

Realistic fantasies about heroes, heroines and historical figures help older children deal with real life problems. Don’t worry. As long as they aren’t using the fantasies as a way of avoiding issues or tasks, they’re fine. Fantasies play an important role in the internal development of children into responsive, caring and resourceful adults.

Fantasies Can Make Life Better

Some people think of people who fantasize as time-wasters. As both a writer and a psychiatric professional, I strongly disagree. Fantasies can improve mental health, give us a positive outlook, raise our self-esteem, and provide us with clear goals for our future.

·         Recognize that fantasies are important. They are often a vision of how we want things to be.

·         Dream big. Don’t plan to control all your fantasies. The more you let your mind wander, the more creative you will be.

·         Use your fantasies to identify goals. Fantasies help us crystallize what we really want out of life.

Identify Fantasy Goals

When you have a fantasy (Do I need to say this?) write it down. Try to use it to hone in on goals you can actually achieve. Write down the goal and identify the steps you need to take to make it a reality. By the way, make a sign and hang it over your computer that says, “Goals that are not written down are fantasies.” Ironic, but precisely why you’re going to write down your fantasy goals.

·         Beat anxieties. Fantasies are like wonderful mind movies. They provide us an escape from the daily grind. As writers, our fantasies contribute to the well-being of society at the root level.

·         Make boring tasks pleasant. If it’s time to weed the flower garden, pretend you’re entering the world of elves and fairies for a little play and to make their homes prettier. (The wee folk will appreciate your company and conversation, and your flowers will bloom brighter). If you’re vacuuming, pretend you’re using a metal detector and searching for rare treasures.

We can’t make all our fantasies come true, but they sure are fun while they last.

Until next time, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Writing, and May all your legal fantasies come true!




Liz Fountain said...

Lots to fantasize, er, think about - thank you Mary!

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Fantasy can be the precursor to Dr. Phil's "Live the behavior."

Very good blog, Mary.