When I tell people I’m a writer they usually say something about a writer being required to have imagination. Or something like that. And I don’t really think imagination is really that important. Yes, it’s kind of a cool thing, but I don’t think it’s a crucial factor to being a writer, or any other kind of artist, for that matter.
I often say that what we admire most in any form of artistic expression is the human element… that core we can all relate to (or respond to, or understand or hate.) All great stories are about people, about how they interact with each other and how they react to certain events.
And you don’t really need imagination to do that. You have to live life, to absorb as much as possible. Maybe that’s the most quality an artist should have: the ability to see more than what others can’t see, to see all the billion things hidden in plain sight, to see what others are too busy to see.
Imagination is just the ability to create a bunch of what if scenarios. To create a world different than this one, to build upon what other built before you.
A friend of mine says that imagination is more important than education. I believe Einstein also said something like that.
Maybe there’s a bit of truth there. Don’t know. You be the judge of that.
All I can say is that imagination is a great thing to have, this ability to create something out of something else is what makes a person a visionary, but it’s not the single most important factor in what makes a great writer. After all, two people staring outside the same window will see two different worlds.
The tricky part is figuring out what is it that you see.