Imagination is the lifeblood of a writer’s creativity, but imagination and creativity are different. If you only imagine, the book does not get written. If you only create, you can miss out on where flights of fancy may take you. There’s a wonderful book by Naomi Epel called Writers Dreaming – writers discuss dreaming and whether/when they use it in their creative process.
I’m no horror fan, but I agree with Clive Barker:
…as a child you are given dream time as part of your fictional life…. You’re given books in which children with whom we want you to identify take journeys which are essentially dream journeys. They are to places in which the fantastical not only happens, but is commonplace…
And then at the age of five or something like that, they start thinking, Wait! What happened to Oz and Never-Never Land and Narnia? Are they no longer relevant? One of the things you’re taught is No! they are no longer relevant. They are, as it were, a sweet introduction to the business of living. And now comes the real stuff – so get on with it.
You’re going to be taught to compete, very often for spurious reasons. You are going to be taught that the accrual of facts, however unimportant those facts are, will somehow make you better and more able to deal with the world…. All those things are lies.
If you’re lucky, you managed to hang on to Oz and the rest as you grew up. Otherwise, you must make your way back to spending much of your time with imaginary people. Poetry, dreams, art, science, faith, nature, music, movies, and books all stimulate imagination, so take the time to play and enjoy it. Keep asking what if,,,? Much of the joy of writing is found in transcribing the imaginary world to provide a shard of truth or insight or hope — some real magic for the real world. And if that shard reflects the moonlight, so much the better.