The Fine Art of Daydreaming
I have identical twin boys. One might think they would be identical in all respects, but that’s not the case. Twin A is actually more Type A than his brother. He loves sports, competition, being in the thick of things. He is incredibly practical and quite driven for his age. He also gets stressed more easily than his twin and has a much harder time letting things go. Twin B, on the other hand, is cheerful, loathes most forms of competition and truly sees the glass half full—even when it’s empty. He is also an immensely gifted daydreamer. Some might call it procrastination, but I know when my sunny Twin B is staring off into space, magical things are happening in his young mind. Eventually these magical things find their way onto paper. You see, Twin B is an artist.
I recently gave a talk about my writing journey during a book festival in Florida. While working on some notes for the speech, I started down my usual path: the importance of perseverance, self-discipline, and routine. In the midst of sketching out what I would say, Twin B came into my office to ask what I was up to. I showed him my notes. He frowned and sauntered off. A few minutes later, he came back.
“I thought you said you love to write.”
“Yes, of course I do,” I told him.
He pointed to my notes. “Well, you’re not making it sound very fun.”
He was right. When I reread what I’d put together it was all very correct—but not very inspiring. I’d failed to capture some elemental part of the writing process, but what?
I left for the book festival with only two pages of notes for what was to be an hour-long talk. I was blocked. Twin B had thrown me a curveball, and while I knew he’d touched on something important, I couldn’t put my finger on what that was.
That is, until the plane ride from New Jersey to Florida. The aircraft was small, and when the passenger in front of me put her seat back ten minutes into the flight, my laptop no longer fit on the tray. My reading material was packed away in my checked luggage. I didn’t even have a pen and paper. I was bored. So my mind did what my mind wanted to do…it wandered for two straight hours. And by the time we landed in Florida, I had my entire speech mapped out, at least conceptually. I knew what the missing ingredient was—the freedom to daydream.
I read somewhere that humans daydream one-half to one-third of our lives. That’s a lot of daydreaming. And yet in a society like ours where a premium is placed on production, daydreaming can be viewed as a waste of time. Children who are daydreamers (like my Twin B) are often viewed as unfocused students or even space cadets. Yet there are real benefits to daydreaming. Daydreaming can relieve boredom (as I discovered), help us deal with stress, allow us to visualize the possibilities (dream big!) and boost creativity.
When I rewrote my notes for the speech, I went all the way back to the real beginning of my writing journey: my active childhood imagination and my love of the written word. That’s where it all started—not years later when, as a driven adult, I developed the discipline to write every day regardless of the obstacles. As Twin A would tell me, practice is key—and that’s the truth—but as craftspersons, we need the mental freedom to develop that craft, to nurture our creative sides, to let our mind wander…to daydream.
When I returned from Florida, I performed a truncated version of my talk for the twins. They both liked it, but Twin B gave me a hug afterwards and let me know that this time “it was much better.”
“I like the part about daydreaming,” he said. “It’s good to have dreams.”
Indeed, it is.
Wendy Tyson is an author, lawyer and former therapist whose background has inspired her mysteries and thrillers. Wendy has written four published crime novels, including Dying Brand, the third novel in the Allison Campbell Mystery Series, which was released on May 5, 2015. The first in the Campbell series, Killer Image, was named a best mystery for book clubs in 2014 by Examiner.com. Wendy is also the author of the Greenhouse Mystery Series, the first of which, A Muddied Murder, is due to be released just in time for spring 2016. Wendy is a member of Sisters in Crime and International Thriller Writers and she is a contributing editor for The Big Thrill, International Thriller Writers’ online magazine. Wendy lives on a micro-farm just outside of Philadelphia with her husband, three sons and three dogs. Visit Wendy on Facebook or at: http://www.WATyson.com.