Harvest ideas through creative daydreaming.
Generating ideas through daydreaming: we all do it. Happens in a nanosecond, probably happened when you clicked on the link opening this blog. Daydreaming has many functions to it: mental rehearsing, storing information in long term memory. Staving off boredom, escaping difficult situations, anticipating worst-case scenarios.
The thing that seems to make daydreaming more ‘effective’ or potentially useful, is meta-cognition- the ability to observe oneself daydreaming and reflect upon the content and application of the daydream. Those who can “think about their thinking” are more likely to harvest the creativity inherent in such a universal pleasure.
Too much negative daydreaming can lead to depression/anxiety disorders according to several major studies, and here’s a good article on the topic with suggestions for managing these “daymares.” (Psychology Today)
I find daydreaming essential in coming up with book ideas. Now that I’ve written seven novels, I’ve figured out a “system” to harvest ideas from creative daydreaming.
- Read interesting stuff to put “raw materials” into the brain to daydream with. I actually think of my brain as sort of a Willy Wonka-like magical factory, where I ship stuff in one end and stories come out the other. I’m always looking for raw material for ideas—reading magazines next to the toilet include everything from Wired to National Geographic. Pinterest has also begun to be a rich source of nonverbal raw imagination materials.
- Ask a question that you need to solve/create/develop. Put it out there, and then just let it sit around until the magical, mystical brain solves it. Framing the problem as a question seems to engage my imagination more. I write questions on the whiteboard next to my desk, and on Postit notes stuck on the dash of my car. Right now “What crime is Lei going to solve in Twisted Vines?” is floating around me in several places. I’ve also listed all the “loose ends” I need to tie up in that book. I’ve tried to actively think about it several times, but I get a feeling much like mental constipation and a sense that I need to put more “raw materials” in, that I don’t have enough information yet to write that book. I have total faith that, even though my brain hasn’t come up with plot of Twisted Vines yet, it will.
- Take long walks with no other stimulation. I don’t get to listen to music when I’m creatively daydreaming as it seems to interfere with the random meanderings that I know I need.
- Drive with the radio off and let the mind wander.
- Sit and “meditate” out in nature.
- Capture ideas “in the wild” as they occur. Best discovery ever: my voice memo and “notes” feature on my phone. That way, on my wandering walk, while driving, while washing dishes, while gardening, while folding laundry, while sitting and making space in my life for daydreaming—I never lose an idea.
These are just some of the ways I’ve found to harvest ideas from creative daydreaming. How has daydreaming helped or hindered you?
I definitely need to drive with the radio off when my mind is churning on an idea for a book or blog post. I’m like you – I work best in silence. I tried years ago to be creative with music on low. Oscar Peterson seemed to work best, but even that was a distraction rather than a pleasure. My best approach seems to be to chew on the problem for a while, then ignore it – take a shower, sleep through the night – and at some point the solution shows up and introduces itself.
I must say, though, it’s cruel and unusual punishment to post a picture of warm sunshine in the grass when freezing hail is hitting the window beside me 🙂
Thanks for the thought provoking post.
Ugh, hail on the window? Come to Maui, the sun is shining! and I’m glad you mentioned showers, that’s another great place for ideas to show up!
You are right. It’s great to sit quietly and let your thoughts take over. Looking out over the landscape on the backside of Maui or down in the crater are two great spots for letting the mind wander and creativity to be unleashed.
At times, great ideas escape me. Harvesting them, or remembering them rather is sometimes a problem. Remembering to take the time to mediate and relax, I think are great tips. Mahalo!
I do my best daydreaming (brainstorming) while driving or in the shower. But the best is when first waking in the morning… right between dream land and wakefulness.