Ex Nihilo, Part I: Conceptualization

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Part one of my four-part weekly series, Ex Nihilo.

The Idea

My blogs typically begin with a single thought, some feeling or sensation that I want to cultivate and grow. It’s not usually well defined, only an abstract vapor meandering through my mind without form or substance.

For this particular blog, I had the sense of something magical, something mystical and otherworldly, something that evoked a primal sense of awe and wonder. The emotion captivated me, and I wanted to go deeper.


When an idea takes me, my next step is usually to sit down and freewrite. Freewriting is a way of loosening the mind, of bypassing the filters that ordinarily get in the way of ideas so that you’re free to make associations. It’s like dynamite. It rocks the foundation of the mind, shaking loose a bunch of intellectual ore that can be sifted and refined into polished writing.

I began by typing a series of words that I associated with my initial feelings. Gradually, those words began to coalesce into sentences and paragraphs. I eventually connected everything to the power of the imagination, and used that final association as a launching point for generating ideas.

Freewriting is a messy process. There’s no structure, and things don’t always make sense. It’s only literary precursor, and is ordinarily a private endeavor. Today, I present the freewrite for my next blog, whole and unedited.

Fantasy. Bizarre. Strange. Wonderful. Vibrant. Irridescent. Luminescent. Bioluminescence. Shimmering. Shining. Bright. Star. Burning. Nuclear explosion. Supernova of the heart. Mind. Eternal. Shadows. Ethereal. Darkness. Good vs. evil. Plight. Benediction. Worship. Fire. Burn. Blaze. Cosmic flames. Tongues like seprents, licking the sky. Candle. Fire. Flame. Sparkle. Gold. Glitter. Gold. Silver. Ore. Platinum. Precious metals. Gems. Jewels. Prize. Imagination. Flicker. Sputter. Cough.

Imagination. Imagination is a fire in the soul, burning. Radiant. Irridescent. Burning. Yearning. Imagination. Beautiful imagination. Imagination is our way to make sense of the inexplicable. Imagination is the ability of the human mind to assign meaning and understanding to the unknown. Imagination is a way of looking at the world, a confident trust in the unknown, faith that the world is fundamentally ordered, faith that the world can be made sense of if only we try.

Imagination is a light reaching out into the darkness, giving us hope and light. Imagination makes us able to love. How does it make us able to love? Imagination helps me to love by…I don’t know, but helping us to imagine what the lives of others must be like. Yes, imagination helps us to discover what another’s life might be like. It makes us empathetic. Imagination gives us a foretaste of what life is like for others, making us want to reach out to ask more questions, which in turn leads to a greater understanding, which ultimately leads us to love.

Imagination provides a framework, a way of perceiving the world. The world is full of mysteries. Through imagination, we make sense of the inexplicable. A framework. A bulwark. A perceptive power. Imagination, like love, is a unique kind of magic (can link to “How is Love like Magic?”)

Imagination gives the unknown new life. Imagination helps us to relate to reality by…by what? Imagination inspires us. Through the fantasies that we imagine, we find that what was previously ignored because it was unknown has suddenly captivated us, and we want to learn more. Therefore, we imagination is what leads us to a love of what’s real. Imagination is the front door, the gate by which we enter a world of knowledge, for without imagination, where and how do we find the inspiration to move forward through the dark?

Imagination is a taste, a hint of what’s to come, a promise, a covenant between the Universe and Man. Imagination is…imagination is…Not sure. Must think some more.

Imagination is not opposed to cool-headed reason: the two are complimentary forces that must be given equal weight. Imagination is what provides the fire and the passion behind our pursuits; cool reason and logic are the vehicles by which we make our dreams come true. Together, the soul of imagination and the mechanics of logic and reason, we do wonderous things. (Can probably link to “How can I rediscover the magic of childhood blog.)

Imagination gives fulfillment to all of our human endeavors. Imagination allows us to reach beyond he obvious, to make a wild leap of faith, to reach out into the darkness and grapple with that which we don’t fully understand. And once we’ve reached into the darkness and taken hold of something hitherto completely unknown and unexplained, we can use reason and logic to follow its trail, slowly approaching it while we continue to grab ahold of it with our imaginations so that eventually we can fully illumine it and more completely understand the Truth.

Let there be light. Light, the creative force behind the making of the cosmos, which exploded into life from nothing, the ultimate act of imagination, the most abundant use of this magical force. We are imitators in this sense. In this sense, we literally reach out into the void of nothing and come back with something. Imagination is the extraordinary power that can transform nothing into something, that can fabricate entire lives, landscapes and civilizations ex nihlo.

Imagination then is a constructive force, a power by which creation is achieved.

– Inspiration and passion
– Vision and ability to make new connections between non-obvious things
– Understanding and empathy
– Creation


Imagination is a well-spring, an inexhaustible source of transformative and rejuvanitive energy.

Ivory towers.

Creativity and imagination: acts that come from these are a mini creation. Just as God created the universe form nothing, and just as it subsists in itself, so too do our stories come from the ether of our minds, and subsist within us. Quote from Tolkein about writing being an act of mini-creation.

Next week, I’ll talk about how I sifted through my freewrite, searched for a unifying theme and organized my thoughts in preparation for the first draft.

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4 thoughts on “Ex Nihilo, Part I: Conceptualization”

  1. Pingback: Ex Nihilo, Part 3: The Rough Draft | Jeff Coleman Writes

  2. Pingback: Ex Nihilo, Part 2: Organization | Jeff Coleman Writes

  3. Pingback: Ex Nihilo, Introduction | Jeff Coleman Writes

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