If you hear voices in your head, the common thinking is that you might be suffering from a mental illness. Unless you’re a writer. We need to hear voices in our head – the voices of our characters. We also need to see imaginary people and make others believe they could be real people.
When I was little, I had three imaginary friends. This may have been because I was an only child and had to make believe some company 🙂 Or perhaps it was my writer brain beginning to form. My imaginary friends were called Belly, Colic and Jasmine. Belly and Colic were the parents and Jasmine their daughter. She came to school with me. God knows how I came up with those names! I was happy playing in my own little world – dressing up, inventing characters and stories and generally amusing myself. I’m still happy today in my own company and to some extent I haven’t stopped playing in my own little world – only now I write that world down.
Characters do become like your imaginary friends – you picture what they look like, how they speak, what they say, what they like to do, their wishes etc until they become almost real inside your head. Perhaps my childhood games have helped me to do this. I loved using my imagination. I always loved to read and that was probably because it allowed me to imagine. And now I love to write for the same reason. Writing at its heart is imagining.
People often talk about writers as being solitary creatures but I think it’s just that we’re happy to be with our characters. We’re not alone with them. If you have imagination you’re never truly alone. That was true for me as a child and still is now.
Who else had an imaginary friend? Do you think a childhood filled with imagination helped you to become a writer as an adult?