The Power of “If”

If there’s one word that drives creativity, it’s if.

Wouldn’t it be cool if a mountain could come to life and tell you a story? 

What if evil space monkeys descended in little silvery spaceships and started grooming everybody for fleas and nits?

How about if your Math teacher were secretly a piece of sentient toast, and nobody knew it but you?

I was involved with the theatre (yes, that’s theatre with an -re and not an -er, you philistines) for many years, and as any student of the theatre knows, one of the most powerful and most basic tools in any actor’s toolbox is Stanislavski’s magic if. The actor must behave as if it is vitally important to him that he not upset his deranged disgruntled insurance salesman brother. The actor must act as if her next word might summon Cthulhu to destroy this universe.

These things are, of course, not true. (At least, not in this dimension.) Therefore the actor must construct similar circumstances to represent the appropriate mental and emotional state.

My brother is not a deranged insurance salesman, for example, but I  do have a brother-in-law who does classified work for the military,so it’s probably best to be careful what I say to him (or post about him on a public blog). And the wrong word might not summon Cthulhu, but the wrong word can most certainly send either of the sprouts into a screeching, banging-on-the-walls and flailing-like-a-cat-in-a-Christmas-sweater-fit, which is close enough to the same thing for my monry.

The magic if drives the actor, and in much the same way, it drives the writer.

The writer gets to imagine how the world would be if people were different. If the rules were different. If gravity were different. If biology were different.

And whereas the magic if opens up the entire range of the human experience to the actor, the writer’s magic if is greater still: it grants him the power to recreate reality itself.  To make world’s as big or as small or as strange or as perfectly normal as he chooses.

We are limited only by our imaginations, and perhaps even those limits are waiting to be broken as well.


If only we have the courage to follow our minds and our pens.

(Okay, our keyboards. Jeez. You try to be a little poetic…)

This weekly remotivational post is part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday. Every weekend, I use Linda G. Hill’s prompt to refocus my efforts and evaluate my process, sometimes with productive results.

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