Many parents say to themselves, "I cant even tell a joke, much less a story." If you say that to yourself, yet you wish you could sit by your childs beside at night and spin a yarn, well, here are a few tips from a professional.
Long ago, when I began to use my imagination for storytelling, I discovered a secret about creativity. Its a simple secret, once you know it, yet in my workshops Ive met thousands of parents who dont know it. Once they discover it, though, they learn to work with what Ive come to call over the years the Inner Storyteller.
Answer this: can you read without hearing a voice in your mind? Just take a moment to read this sentence and listen inside your thinking. Are you hearing your own voice, quietly reading? The chances are about ninety-five to one that you are. Youre hearing your own inner voice reading my words. The voice might be quiet, but its there. Thats your Inner Storyteller, everybodys got one, and becoming acquainted with it is the first step toward learning to spin yarns.
Read this sentence, and try to make your Inner Storyteller speak a little more loudly. Did you do it? Its like turning up the volume on a radio.
In the language areas in the left hemisphere of your brain, words turn to pictures, and pictures turn to words. If I say "tree", youll see an image of a tree in your mind.
Could be any tree of your choosing. If you say "tree" to me, then Ill see a tree, one of my own choosing, in my mind.
So what happens when your Inner Storyteller says "shiny red apple"? You might just see a mental image of a shiny red apple. Is the apple sitting on anything? A table, perhaps. Or in a bowl with other apples? Where else might the apple be sitting?
If images are suggested to your mind by these questions, then imagine leaning down to the apple and sniffing it. Apples have a delicious aroma even when theyre just sitting there, but you have to lean close to smell it. Did you smell an imaginary aroma? What if theres an orange next to it and I slice it in half and you lean down and sniff it. Did you imagine the orange aroma? If you did, you have just used two of your Five Imaginations. Visual imagination and olfactory imagination.
For each of your five senses, you have one. Weve discussed visual imagination and olfactory imagination so far. Think of your other senses. Hearing for instance. Take a moment to choose a piece of music youve been listening to lately, doesnt matter what kind of music. Sit back and take a moment to play the music in your mind.
Are you hearing music? If you are, youre creating auditory images in your "minds ear", for lack of a better term. How about the sound of cars honking horns in a traffic jam? Or of a crowd at a football game roaring in the stands? Weve logged lots of sounds into our memories, and they, just like visual images or aromas, can trigger stories.
Of course we havent finished the five senses yet. Imagine sitting in your chair but your underwear pinches. Or imagine burning your fingertip on a hot pan. Those sorts of mental images I call "kinesthetic" images, and they seem to occur as much in your body as in your mind, if youre really imagining them. Think of the tens of thousands of physical memories you have, waiting to be called upon, as kinesthetic images. This is a very powerful form of imagination, one I use often.
Lastly, as we round out the senses, we arrive at taste. Sip a good wine in your minds mouth. Let it swirl around. Swallow it down. Gustatory images are as easy to summon as the others.
Now, consider this: take the shiny red apple in your hand and feel it. Lift it up to your nose and smell its pale apple aroma. Take a knife and cut out a wedge. Drop the knife to the table and hear it hit. Chew into the wedge of apple and swallow it.
You have just used all five imaginations, hopefully. And that is one very potent secret to know if you want to learn to spin yarns at bedtime.