Kids do it all the time. Adults should do it more. Some people would say that playing pretend is childish, and be embarrassed to do it in public, or even to do it at all. I think most people would agree that, as an adult, it’s better not to pretend so much, because you need to “live in the real world.”
Well, down with that, I say! The “real world” isn’t always as important as people say it is. What is real?
If real is what you can feel, smell, taste and see, then ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.
By that definition, pretend is as real as it gets. Now, most people have the intrinsic understanding that “real” is more than that, and I would agree–it is more. But one should never discount the power of imagination. Pretending is more important than you might think. My memories of the things I’ve pretended are often as vivid as things that really happened to me, if not more. Pretending shapes you. You probably wear a mask of some kind, which is a different kind of pretending than the child-like, adventuresome pretending I’m mostly referring to. Many of our stories are based on these childish games of pretend, these daydreams of adventures that everyone, at some point, has. This daydreaming is a primal thing. Stay in touch with your ability to play pretend, and you possess a vital thing that many, if not most, adults have lost.
The ability to play pretend is vitally important for any writer. It is this ability that powers our imaginations, and allows us to get into the heads of our characters and write about people who, though they are just pretend, seem as real as your or me. I just got home from a lovely walk in which I pretended an adventure for myself. It was real to me as it happened, though it was only in my mind, and now I have an interesting new story idea to ponder and write about. I believe that the ability to daydream–to daydream a story, an adventure, not just your sweetheart kissing you or something like that–is one of the main things that sets storytellers apart from everyone else. Us storytellers are the ones who still play pretend.
So stop being all grown up and go play, already!
P.S. My spacebar and V keys are messing up lately. I just thought this information would an that little extra bit of deep philosophicalness to this post.