When I was writing in high school and college, I had a reoccurring dream.
Actually, it was a waking dream.
Okay, still not right. The most accurate term for it is “creative daydream.” Years later, the term came to me, and it seemed right. It’s something I still do today.
So…what’s a creative daydream, and what about that reoccurring one? There’s plenty of research out there that suggests daydreaming is good for creativity. In a book published about a year ago, Creative Confidence, author Tom Kelley explains how studies show “prolific mind wanderers score higher on tests of creativity.” Supposedly, too, it’s nifty for boosting our working memory.
From an early age, I’ve taken spare moments to creative daydream. It’s like meditation, clearing the mind and letting new ideas spring to life. Except, it hasn’t always been about new ideas. In fact, I knew exactly what I wanted to daydream about.
So back to that reoccurring dream. What was it about? Well, it was all about the life of a writer.
Someday I’d finish a book. And…THEN WHAT? What might happen the day I sold a novel? Obviously this scenario lived in the “this is all I know about it right now” world. I would purposefully daydream what would happen, and as I matured as a writer, as I took classes and workshops, when I later on started publishing a magazine and other writers’ books, I learned what the actual process would look like.
So the dream morphed. It gelled until it entered a rather detailed scenario, but the basics always were: The deal with the agent. The call from the editor wanting to buy the book. The contract deal. (It was always for plenty of money, of course.) Finding out about the cover art, and so on. Oddly (or maybe not so oddly), I never factored in any actual post-book deal editing. That would be more work!
But here was the best part of my dream: Finding a box on my doorstep filled with copies of my novel. And it was always November or early December. Why? Because I could surprise my family with them for Christmas. In my mind, it was the perfect situation: I saw myself, over and over, celebrating success during a time associated with love and giving, and I saw myself, over and over, sharing that success with the people who mattered most to me.
You may think it weird that what I have always loved the most about the film Back to the Future is the strange and wonderful George McFly, father to Marty. Why George McFly? Because he has a dream of becoming a best-selling author, and at the end of the film, George opens up a box of his first novel in front of his family: A Match Made in Space, a science fiction novel.
Oh, that moment. That moment when the seemingly unassuming George McFly with the weird laugh sees his dream come true is so full of NERDY AWESOME.
Creative daydreaming has always been a way for me to rehearse new possibilities and visualize success. A motivator. A confidence builder. When copies of The Ultra Thin Man arrived on my porch, in a box, I thought of Back to the Future, and realized my own “dreamed of” future had arrived. Except…it happened in August, not during the Christmas season. Close enough.
I have other creative daydreams I still work on today. I imagine that most of them, at some point in my life, will come true. Why not? It worked for me before. When the stress of daily life hits, when the things that I need to have happen seem next to impossible, when I can’t seem to make any progress on something and can’t figure out how to solve those really difficult problems, that’s when I need to RELAX.
The only way for it to happen is to stop searching for it, and pick up a creative daydream and get to work.