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Daydreaming for Type As

I just read an article about daydreaming that claims it’s good for you. Wow. Is this like being told that dark chocolate will firm your abs? I love this.

Daydreaming, the article says, isn’t a waste of time or self-indulgence. Seems that using MRI scans, neuroscientists saw that when daydreaming a part of the brain “lights up” — a region of the brain dedicated to high-level thought and problem-solving. We may not be paying direct attention but the mind is at work on big stuff.

I’m particularly intrigued by this right now because I’m working on a writing assignment that just isn’t coming together. The more I attack it, the more discouraged I become. It’s strange, because I’ve often given writing advice about avoiding ticking off the muse by riding herd on it. And yet, the more my deadline approaches, the harder I herd. *sigh.* Take your own advice, Kenyon! I know (as I explained in my recent e-newsletter) that solutions to problems often come through what scientists call the three “Bs.” Bus, bed, bath. That is, let yourself drift and the answer may come suddenly then. So I know, at some level, that the “magic happens.” You wake up, and you have your plot problem fixed, etc.

I also believe that this process works most reliably the more experience you have writing. Think of all the time a novelist spends working on stories. After thousands of hours of this, imagine the proportion of neurons that are grooved in, dedicated to, fiction. These are the neurons (perhaps unfortunately) that, as George R.R. Martin once said on a panel, “that most people use for real life.”

Even so, if you’re at the beginning of your writing career, the process of daydreaming is still good for you! Because, like, the scientists were not testing artists, experts, or other scientists. Just non-obsessed people. So no matter what stage of writing you’re at, perhaps one of your must-do activities this week is staring at a wall. Watching your cat sleep. Contemplating your pedicure.

True, you will definitely look unproductive. Have a notebook nearby so that when spouse wanders in, you can snatch it up and look like you’re working.

But secretly, your work is already done.

You daydreamed.


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