Imagination and the Inner Child


Where does inspiration come from? It’s a question often asked but I sometimes feel that this question masks the deeper question, that is where does the imagination come from and why?

Roald Dahl Witches mug

Roald Dahl Witches mug (Photo credit: The Style PA)

I was watching Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory the other day. No, not the Johnny Depp, Tim Burton version, the Gene Wilder version. It got me thinking about when I was a child and first read the book by Roald Dahl. There was something very wonderful and innocent about Dahl’s stories, despite the darkness that could be in them too. I remember reading the book and enjoying it so much because it tapped into a place in my imagination that seemed so lively and interesting, a place where good would win out in the end but the journey would be confusing and perilous. Above all, there was something that seemed so unrestrained about Roald Dahl.

As well as using his own made up words (neologisms) the characters were well formed and the fantasy all tied in to the overall plot. Nothing was incidental, it was either in their for fun, for a moral message or for the benefit of the overall story and yet it felt so freeing.

Everlasting Gobstoppers candy made by Willy Wonka.

Everlasting Gobstoppers candy made by Willy Wonka. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In one part, Willy Wonka says to Charlie that it had to be a child he would give his factory to, because an adult would want to do everything their own way whereas a child wouldn’t. This and the story as a whole seems to epitomize the very nature of writing fiction. Willy Wonka is the creator of his   but also creative and curious.  He is not a controller but a dreamer and in essence, he has held onto the child-like part of himself that is receptive to new ideas and not so limited by ideas of standard or `normal’.

I do feel that it is this part of us that is responsible for fiction. Adult concepts, of course, will often seep into any writing but it seems like it comes from an innocent place: A place of honesty and wonder. It’s important whether you’re just starting out or have been writing for years to remember the essence of what you enjoy about it. You won’t quite be able to put your finger on it but you will notice if it is missing. So when you’re struggling try to remember the child aspect of yourself for it’s that side that may have all the good ideas.

Pure Imagination Song – Gene Wilder

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14 thoughts on “Imagination and the Inner Child

  1. Before I started wriitng creatively myself, I often wondered where writers get their ideas from. I think I know now. It’s just a matter of accessing that place. Adults have to relearn what children seem to know all along.

    • Definitely! I was writing fiction from an early age and it was much easier then as I did not judge it so much. I did it for its own merit at that point and I often think that the secret to it is in that innocent place of writing for fun and curiosity.

  2. Great post! It gives me a lot to think about — I’ve only been writing for a short time, but I’ve always considered myself very creative. It’s interesting to think of creativity in terms of being childlike. Too many people confuse ‘childlike’ with ‘childish’, and it’s an important distinction.

    • I agree. It’s very important to make the distinction between being childlike and childish. Also there seems to be a negative perception of being childlike as if occassionally being that way hinders you as a complete person. I say, stay a little young and be happier for it!

      Thanks for posting.

  3. I’m not a writer, I’m a reader. Roald Dahl was one of the first authors I fell in love with. I love your post, and I hope we can get more authors like him in the future!

  4. I’m late to the party but love your post and really appreciate the ping-back. Dahl was one of the few children’s authors who had the ability to really remind you of what it was to be a child. I treasure that in a good author. Thanks again!

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