When I was a kid, “made-up” stories had two meanings:
1. Fiction. Stories that weren’t true; they were made up.
2. Stories devised by the storyteller. They didn’t come from a book; they weren’t familiar tales retold, or old classics that the storyteller knew by heart and was repeating. He or she had made them up himself/herself.
It is the second category of made-up stories that I wish to talk about today. Specifically, I want to encourage all parents and grandparents to make up stories to tell their kids, and I want them to encourage the kids to make up stories as well.
Now, this may seem antithetical—a book writer urging readers to make up stories rather than urging them to buy more books to read to their kids. Well, I certainly hope you’ll buy lots of books to read aloud…but I’m looking toward the greater good here. Making up stories is a great imagination-stretcher, and even though the imagination isn’t literally a muscle, like any real muscle it needs to be exercised regularly to keep in shape.
The imagination is a wonderful thing, but stifle it and it shrivels; fail to exercise it and it does not grow. It’s not just handy for writing stories. That too, but it has so many other functions, even in writing nonfiction, and in work you may need to do now and your child may need to do in the future.
Suppose you are called upon to write a corporate history of your company…a series of blogposts…web copy. If you’re a Realtor, don’t you think imagination and creativity are called for in writing alluring listings for properties you’re selling?
You see, it’s not just writing stories that calls for an imagination, and it’s not just writing fiction—nonfiction projects call for a strong imagination too. So get in practice with “made-up” stories, and get your child/grandchild used to stretching his or her imagination and exercising his or her creativity “muscle” too!