Roald Dahl’s very big imagination comes from a
“secret compartment in his brain.”

On Friday we visited the Roald Dahl Museum in Great Missenden.  The museum tells the story of the children’s author, from his prank-filled childhood to his career as a pilot during WWII to his beginnings as a writer.

His writing hut has been transferred to the museum, along with his writing chair and desk.

Roald Dahl writing hut

The inside of Dahl’s writing hut, where children’s classics such as Charley and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach were written.

I found myself getting inspired by this giant of a writer: Roald Dahl was 6′ 5 & 3/4″ tall, a BFG in his own right. Posted around the museum are Roald Dahl’s comments about writing and his dedication to the writing life.

“My work routine is very simple. And it’s always been the same, for the last forty-five years. I go out to my writing hut at ten o’clock in the morning, and I stop at twelve. In the afternoon, I return for another two hour session from four to six. I have a comfortable chair; I’ve got a writing desk. It’s got on it dark green billiard cloth which is very soft on the eyes. I put a roll of corrugated paper under it so that it’s exactly at the right angle. I have an old leather trunk, filled with blocks of wood, to put my feet on. Once you’re in here, you can lose yourself in your work. It is my little nest, my womb.”

My advice to you is: Whether it is with a group of characters or an idea for the plot, begin to write. Everything develops under the pencil as you begin to write. It really does.

“My advice to you is: Whether it is with a group of characters or an idea for the plot, begin to write. Everything develops under the pencil as you begin to write. It really does. And as Hemingway told me: ‘When you are going good, stop writing.’ Terrific, because then you can pick up again!”

“So when you meet a musician or a writer, you shouldn’t be surprised that they look exactly like ordinary people, because in that part of their lives they are… They are ordinary people who have a secret compartment somewhere in their brain which they can switch on when they become quite alone and go to work.”They are ordinary people who have a secret compartment somewhere in their brain which they can switch on when they become quite alone and go to work.”

They are ordinary people who have a secret compartment somewhere in their brain which they can switch on when they become quite alone and go to work.

His comments, coming at a time when I’m dedicating every free moment to writing, made an impact on me. My best writing is done when I have a routine, and when I put my writing routine above everything else.

I don’t need a writing hut; all I need is a hard and fast routine. It’s a simple realization, but one I really need at this busy moment in my life.

The museum is about forty-five minutes from London off the A413 in Great Missenden. It’s easy to spot: look for the purple building.

For more information, go to http://www.roalddahlmuseum.org.

For inspiration, go to where you can be alone and switch on that secret compartment in your brain.

5 Comments on Roald Dahl: Every writer has a secret compartment in his brain

  1. Ruby
    June 10, 2012 at 3:11 pm (6 years ago)

    Nice quotes. I love that museum, and so do the kids. It is very child-focused but people often forget that Dahl wrote grown-up stuff too. And, obviously, his advice for writers is well worth heeding.

    Reply
    • KathrynB
      June 10, 2012 at 8:18 pm (6 years ago)

      I loved it too, even though we went as sort of an afterthought–nothing else to do on a windy dreary day!

      Reply
  2. Gabi Stevens
    June 10, 2012 at 5:20 pm (6 years ago)

    I want a writing hut too. And no other responsibilities for about a week. No dinners, no dogs, no children, no husband, no laundry, no phones, and no bills to pay. 🙂

    Reply
    • KathrynB
      June 10, 2012 at 8:17 pm (6 years ago)

      I love that idea, especially the no dogs/children/husband/laundry/phones. But I must insist on dinner!

      Reply

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