Thursday, January 28, 2021

Purposeful Daydreaming

My crossed, booted feet on the bank of a creek bed covered in snow. Steam rising from the water in the sunny winter air.

 I’ve been working on being a professional daydreamer forever. I remember warm summer days spent in the poppy patch watching the bees hum around me and imagining unicorns and trolls adventuring nearby. I remember leaning my head against the glass of the school bus window as I stared out across the fields, imagining the life of a young girl with a pegasus. And I remember hiking and sitting along the banks of a frozen creek with my husky, imagining the hiss of the blowing snow was dragon scales sliding over rock.

Growing up I would chose which dreams I wanted to return to. I’d have a fantastic dream and upon waking, would sit and think about it and examine what had happened—so I could actually remember said dream for longer than an hour—then I would return to that dream before falling asleep by replaying what I’d dreamt the night before. Only the second or third nights I would change things I didn’t like or wanted to happen differently…and then I’d go back to that dream and experience it all over again but better! My pegasus lived in the most fantastical world!

But it wasn’t until I was tipped off on Robert Olen Butler’s book From Where You Dream that I realized what an important writing tool this really was. After reading Butler’s book I’m absolutely sure I’d never want to sit in on his lectures, he’s very black and white in his assumptions and definitions on literature, but I did glean one very useful writing tool. 

Dreamstorming—getting into the dream space. It’s different than daydreaming when your mind wanders and slips away for a few moments in-between life’s business. When you purposefully put yourself in the dream zone you’re examining each scene visually so you feel where the characters are standing and you’re tapped into their emotions and sensibilities.

This is a tool that I like to use before I start writing. Well, I also hang out in the dream space when I’m plotting out a novel, I love watching the action and seeing what the characters do. But it’s a great warm up for a writing session. 

Want to give it a try?

Sit somewhere comfortable. I prefer things to be very hygge, the Danish word that encompasses comfort and peace, and having a blanket on my lap and a warm cup in my hand usually do the trick. Having a fire or a candle can be handy too. I know you’ve all zoned out while gazing deep into the flames before. When you’re comfortable let your mind shut off all the stuff, your to-do list for the day, the dishes sitting in the sick, the email you have to get to, all of that stuff gets shut off and you’re left with your story. Or a character. Or a place. Pick what dream space you want to walk into and form it in your mind’s eye. Then sit back and watch. 

Pay attention to how you feel and what you sense, everything that doesn’t require words. When you’re done, write it out. It doesn’t have to be extremely detailed or long, just jot down what encompasses the scene you just watched. You may prefer to sit at your desk, like Butler, for a short zoning session. Or you may work better by setting aside a half our or more if you’re really comfortable. If you’re stuck, got a plot hole, settle in and watch your story and see what happens when you get to the sticky situation. 

If you give it a go, let me know! 

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