Writers often complain to me that they have no imagination. (Of course you do!)
I love this quote from famous novelist Anthony Trollope on developing your imagination so that you can create fictional characters.
How to develop your imagination
Sir Henry Brackenbury recounted a conversation he had with Trollope in his book, Some Memories of My Spare Time:
I said that I envied him the gift of imagination, which enabled him to create characters.
He said, ‘Imagination! my dear fellow, not a bit of it; it is cobbler’s wax.’
Seeing that I was rather puzzled, he said that the secret of success was to put a lump of cobbler’s wax on your chair, sit on it and stick to it till you had succeeded. He told me he had written for years before he got paid.
What’s cobbler’s wax?
Presumably cobbler’s wax was once used by cobblers — shoemakers. According to this instructive tutorial from Eunan Hendron, it’s a sticky substance made of beeswax, rosin, and olive oil. Nowadays fishermen use it to tie salmon flies.
From the article:
A little bit on your finger as you’re tying works wonders for holding materials in place with minimum thread wraps, and your body temperature keeps it soft enough to run over the thread as you need it.
So there you go. You don’t need imagination to write wonderful fiction. Just stick your rear end to your chair and keep it there… With or without cobbler’s wax… 🙂
Another Anthony Trollope quote, on Writing a Novel
Do you procrastinate on writing? Trollope has a solution:
“When I have commenced a new book, I have always prepared a diary, divided into weeks, and carried it on for the period which I have allowed myself for the completion of the work.”
This works. Try it.
Remember to use your imagination, too. 🙂
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Copywriter and marketing pro Angela Booth maintains a busy copywriting and ghostwriting practice. Fascinated by online marketing, she wrote one of the first business books for internet marketing, published by Allen & Unwin. She’s been an enthusiastic blogger since the late 1990s.