Some of that effort has appeared on the pages of my work. Most of it hasn’t, either because it didn’t fit what I was trying to create, or wouldn’t make sense to anyone but me. I keep imagining though, and this is the important point I want to make: Creativity won’t grow if you don’t indulge it. Just like any muscle in our body or talent that requires practice, imagination has to be nurtured to grow. There are plenty of things you can do to exercise your creativity, read (my personal favorite), watch movies, watch TV (although I often feel TV stifles imagination and storytelling more than nurtures them), or go on a nature walk (doesn’t matter if you prefer forests, mountains, deserts, beaches or whatever, just get outside and away from crowds).
The great thing about creativity is that you really don’t have to go anywhere. You can day dream, meditate, or just think about things from a different perspective than you have before, right where you are now. Be on the lookout for new ways to bring ideas together or examine something you already know well from another point of view. The results may be amazing or not, but the exercise is still worth while. I’ve come up with a dozen ideas for new stories just by thinking about what I’ve already done and trying to come up with any idea I hadn’t already explored.
Of course, coming up with the idea is the easy part. Then you have to find a framework, or other ideas to work together with it. Or don’t, its all up to you to decide what to do with what you imagine. For me, the most enjoyable part of the writing process isn’t coming up with ideas or putting them together, but finding that the ideas mesh together naturally without being mashed together in my mind. I’m always tickled when something I’ve thought of resurfaces in a new way I’d never considered before. That makes the whole effort even more rewarding, and deepens my writing at the same time.