Is My Daydreaming Constructive to Writing Fiction?

I didn’t do much real work during the first half of this week. I was too busy daydreaming. For nearly the entire day Monday and Tuesday, I only did mindless tasks which allowed my imagination to wander. It felt great indulging in my make-believe world. I immersed myself in an entirely new setting as different people. I felt anticipation when the characters in my head were on an adventure. I felt sadness, love, and a number of other emotions my characters felt as the story progressed. These are the sensations I strive for when I write. But I didn’t write any of it down.

So was Monday and Tuesday a complete waste? Today I can’t remember every detail of the story I daydreamed about. Part of it is lost, as is some of the emotional impact. In fact, I am now bored with the story and am no longer inspired to write it down. As a writer I should know by now how to harness this inspiration when it comes over me and use it constructively to write. But sometimes I just want escape without the burden having to sit at my desk and write it down (in other words, work).

Although I didn’t write anything down, I don’t feel these days were a complete waste. I remember enough of the story that I can file it away in my brain and bring it back again on another inspirational day. And I feel like I’ve really developed the story and the characters. When I first started daydreaming, everything was vague. The characters were wishy-washy molds of clay waiting to be sculpted. But as my mind wandered and the tale progressed so did the development of my characters. I feel like I know who they are now. I know how they think and how they will react to various situations. Everything came to life in my mind and I now feel that when I do write it down, it will be easier to bring it to life on paper too.

I do this daydreaming thing a lot. I’ve been doing it since I was a child. When the real world got tough, I daydreamed another little girl named Julia who was stronger than me and was able to stand up to the injustice surrounding her. It helped that she had a unicorn/Pegasus that flew to her rescue whenever she needed it. When my sister Julie was born, I had to develop a new character. (I was jealous of Julie and couldn’t very well have a hero with nearly the same name.) The new character was a boy this time. Over the years, I’ve developed a number of different characters. They fought injustice in various fantastical themes including medieval, the Crusades, Renaissance, colonial, western, modern, sci-fi, etc. I now have more stories in my head than I could ever possibly have time to write down.

Does all this sound crazy? Am I the only one who does this? Do you other fiction writers find yourselves daydreaming your hours away? Does it help you in writing fiction?

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4 Responses to “Is My Daydreaming Constructive to Writing Fiction?”

  1. I don’t think it’s crazy – but then, I do the same thing. Like you, I often don’t remember the daydreams that eat up so much of my time, but sometimes they do lead to junctures where I have epiphanies worth jotting down. Other times I think they provide an outlet for burning off energy that I can’t make constructive use of, which some people would try to channel into productive activity, but I’ve decided not to kid myself about whether activity is innately productive just because it feels like work and uses up energy. I’m not interested in letting busywork dominate my life, and I know people who would sooner play solitaire and watch television for hours than let their thoughts wander, so I don’t want to be one of those compulsive must-be-busy types. I trust my imagination to chart its own course to a degree, and while some days it doesn’t seem to go anywhere or rehashes a rather worn-out daydream theme ad nauseum, often it leads organically into a productive creative activity, and I think if I didn’t give my imagination permission to risk wasting time it would cramp my creativity as a writer and a critical thinker.

  2. Glad to know I’m not the only one! 🙂 I prefer to daydream than play solitaire or watch tv too, with the exception of a couple of shows.

  3. I have a sign in my writing room that says, “You call it daydreaming. I call it multi-tasking.” Some of my best ideas come to me when I’m stuck in stop and go traffic.

    • D. R. Ross Says:

      Me too! I get honked at a lot because traffic has moved on yet I’m still sitting there, lost in a better world. 😉

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