“Imagination is the voice of daring. If there is anything Godlike about God it is that. He dared to imagine everything.” – Henry Miller

When I tell people I’m a writer they usually say something about a writer being required to have imagination. Or something like that. And I don’t think imagination is really that important. Yes, it’s kind of a cool thing, but I don’t think it’s a crucial factor to being a writer, or any other kind of artist, for that matter.

I often say that what we admire most in any form of artistic expression is the human element… that core we can all relate to (or respond to, or understand or hate.) All great stories are about people, about how they interact with each other and how they react to certain events.

And you don’t really need imagination to do that. You have to live life, to absorb as much as possible. Maybe that’s the most  quality an artist should have: the ability to see more than what others can’t see, to see all the billion things hidden in plain sight, to see what others are too busy to see.

Imagination is just the ability to create a bunch of what if scenarios. To create a world different than this one, to build upon what other built before you.

A friend of mine says that imagination is more important than education. I believe Einstein also said something like that.

Maybe there’s a bit of truth there. Don’t know. You be the judge of that.

All I can say is that imagination is a great thing to have, this ability to create something out of something else is what makes a person a visionary, but it’s not the single most important factor in what makes a great writer. After all, two people staring out the same window will see two different worlds.

The tricky part is figuring out what is it that you see.

8 thoughts on “Imagination

  1. Einstein said in fact;Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. It is, strictly speaking, a real factor in scientific research. The other factor is that “Genius is about 2% inspiration and 98% perspiration.” (Thomas Edison).

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  2. This article reminds me of Natalie Goldberg, whom in her book, ‘Writing Down the Bones’, states, “A writer must always have ‘yes’ in her heart.” I think that’s integral to good writing. As Cristian elgantly wrote above, a writer must have the ability to see more than what most others can’t see . . . Which necessitates that writers remain open and receptive to their environment and their experience of the people and events around them.


  3. Imagination is a crucial factor in creating revolutionary art that is so ahead of its time that it won’t be appreciated for many years to come, maybe not even until your dead. To create a story that is popular and sells well now you need to have experienced life and be able to know all about the interactions of others. So it depends on whether your going for self actualisation or fame really.

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  4. To create a story that is popular and sells well now you need to have experienced life and be able to know all about the interactions of others.
    The kind of literary hoaxes that irritate me the most, are the novels who’re exclusively written  from a commercial perspective. This was illustrated by Newsday reporters Mike McGrady and Others, who wrote purposely a book so trashy and full of smut to prove that a work could become popular just because of that. They wrote Naked Came the Stranger by “Penelope Ashe” and today the book has sold almost a half million copies. 50 Shades of Grey has in the meanwhile beaten them.


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