In Defense of Daydreaming

People often ask writers where they get their ideas, a question I’ve always found interesting. What do you mean where do I get them? I don’t get them anywhere. They come to me. This isn’t to say they’re all generated by my mind from thin air. They’re a mix of day-to-day observations, knowledge gained from researching an interesting subject, and my own internal angst about something. But it usually starts with daydreaming.

As I was thinking about this post my mind began to wander. I went from daydreaming about being a bestselling author, to thinking about being Ernest Hemingway, to his quote about writing the truest sentence you know, to writing my own truest sentence in my head, to giving that sentence to a character. And now I have a book idea about a villainous puppeteer.

I wasn’t purposely looking for a new novel idea. It just came to me as I let my mind wander.

daydreaming meme

And it’s not just about coming up with book ideas. Here are some of my recent daydreams:

-Create YouTube channel with as many followers as John Green. Then sell as many books as him. Then be famous.

-Not only make a book trailer for my book, but also create a music video where I dance with the very famous actors who will star in the movie based on my book. (Don’t worry. I’ve got the choreography all figured out.)

-Open my own animal sanctuary and have hundreds of cats, squirrels, or whatever animal crawls/flies/swims its way into my heart.

-Learn to sail and then sail around the world. I’ve already envisioned what our boat will look like and what I’ll be wearing.

-Make dioramas of Chapstick tubes dressed to look like characters from movies and TV shows. This project is thoroughly sketched out, complete with caption ideas and props. I’ve got Jaws, The Breakfast Club, Poltergeist, Dexter, The Vampire Diaries… It’s going to be epic.

In some cases, I’ve taken the daydreaming a step further to actual planning and goal setting. But if we’re being honest, it’s likely I won’t actually accomplish all of these things.

So I think the next logical question is:

Well, if I’m not actually going to do all of these things, is it a waste of time to daydream about them?

I say no.

I believe daydreams help to shape my present and future. Maybe they provide me with tools I’ll use in the future, allow me to practice possible scenarios in my head, and identify possible tactics and solutions. They help me define my goals and figure out who I want to be in the future.

And for every handful of daydreams, I know I will make some of them come true:

-One day, I woke up and decided to write a book. I daydreamed about it, came up with a plan, and I actually did it.

-Logan realized that he loved woodworking. He daydreamed about it. I daydreamed about it for him (because I’m really good at it), and we decided he should quit his job and we should move to Maine so he could attend furniture-making school. We daydreamed, we planned, we moved. And here we are.

maine freeway sign

It was much warmer when we arrived…

And I know that while some daydreams won’t come true, they might lead to something else.

-Perhaps I never find the time to make my Chapstick dioramas, but maybe a character in one of my books does.

lip balm

I’ve already begun to collect them!

-Maybe I never have a hit music video with my famous actor friends, but I create a video of well choreographed dancing cats that I post to YouTube and use the proceeds to start that animal sanctuary.

cats sleeping

You guys better put your dancing shoes on.

So I say indulge in your daydreams–you never know what might come of it. And to the people who say daydreaming is a waste of time, I say pfft… where’s your story idea for a villainous puppeteer? Or more importantly, where’s your dancing cat video?

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