Monday, July 13, 2009

10) daydreaming

the literary life 7/13/2009

Daydreaming is defined as "a reverie indulged in while awake" (


  • Thought is the labor of the intellect, reverie is its pleasure. ~Victor Hugo

  • One man's daydreaming is another man's novel. ~Grey Livingston

  • I was trying to daydream, but my mind kept wandering. ~Steven Wright

  • A daydream is a meal at which images are eaten. Some of us are gourmets, some gourmands, and a good many take their images precooked out of a can and swallow them down whole, absent-mindedly and with little relish. ~W.H. Auden
To daydream is to mentally let go, to step out of the moment into an imagined moment. While this can seem "unproductive" in a work-oriented society like ours, there are many benefits to daydreaming: it can be rejuvenating and inspiring; it's rumored to lower blood pressure and stress. I personally find it galvanizes my creative efforts. For me, daydreaming is a tool I use to help resolve complex issues (a decision I'm struggling with for example--even in my creative life). I might daydream while meditating to help my mind arrive at an unexpected solution.
However, there might be such a thing as too much daydreaming or "day-mares" where daydreaming descends into obsessive negative thinking. I believe it is beneficial in frequent but small doses when it ultimately works to improve one's state of mind. If you have trouble daydreaming, try doing it while engaged in another task: sketching in a notepad, folding laundry, flipping absently through an art book, knitting a scarf, or cleaning dishes. I believe a good daydream, like a good nap, makes us feel more hopeful and refreshed--while possibly inspiring some creativity.
Try daydreaming about one of the following for the next five seconds: pink skyscrapers in the rain; skateboarding zebras arriving at the beach; wedding cakes floating in the sky on their way from from Los Angeles to London.
Writers: Try daydreaming about a character in the story you're working on. What might this character daydream about?
Here's a link to a short piece on daydreaming and creativity in Psychology Today:

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