April 09, 2015

Imaginative Relaxation - Shirley S. Tye

It’s difficult to keep writing fresh; new story ideas, new approaches. Really…how many ways are there to solve a crime, create a murder mystery, develop relationship difficulties, fall in love, produce a character children would be interested in reading about and/or learning from? Hasn’t it all been written? Apparently not. Writers continue generating stories, articles, poems, songs, speeches, and devotionals. Oh, sure there’s a pattern but within that pattern is a slight twist or an unusual tone or voice of the writer. And it’s that twist, that voice that makes the difference; making an old story new.

But from where do these little twists, these little bits of “newness” come. Imagination is one source. But what ignites it? I’ve found that relaxation works. Under stress, I’m not able to create or do much of anything except stew and fret and lose sleep. Walking relaxes me, especially walking somewhere pleasant; by a lake or river, in a park, or down the paths that wind through the trees behind our house. I sketch or take photographs. Later at home, when I look at these pictures (while I’m relaxed) stories pop into my head that generally spring from questions about the pictures. I may wonder; who cut that tree down, why did they cut it, where is that boat going, what’s on that little island, etc. And soon my imagination is in gear and a story develops.

Sometimes a busy place will spark the creative brain cells. A coffee shop is a wonderful place to observe people. As I relax with a cup of hot coffee, I watch customers dash in and out of the shop, and study the ones who are seated with a drink or a meal. Yes, I’m spying on others. I jot notes into a little journal. I write about what is happening, what I smell and hear, and what people are saying and wearing. The connection of the fingers around the pencil, of applying a little graphite to the paper, stimulates the imagination. Then at home, as I tap the computer keyboard, I play with sentences; twisting them, moulding them. Soon a story unfolds. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes not so good. But it’s a start. With a little more relaxation and juggling of the words, a twist to the story materializes told in an intriguing voice that at least pleases me.


  1. I liked this peek into your process, Shirley.

  2. Very practical helps, Shirley. I especially like the idea of taking photo walks, and using those photos later to revisit a relaxing moment when the imagination was freed from stress. I take photos, but rarely go back to them. A change is required! Thx

  3. I like your idea of sketching or taking photos on your outings. I'm not so great at sketching, but I do need to figure out my new camera and practice with it. It sounds like you're more into fiction than I am, but walking can also bring out the ideas of memoir, non-fiction, poetry. Maybe if I try your methods, the fiction will come. Thanks.

  4. I've thought about taking my camera on walks. Now I must get out and do this. Great idea!
    Pam Mytroen


Thank you for taking the time to join in the conversation. Our writers appreciate receiving your feedback on posts you have found helpful or meaningful in some way.