Every creative person I know is prone to daydreaming, and I’ve been doing it my whole life. If there’s a window, I’ll stare out of it. It seems to be a familial trait. My father, an engineer and inventor, was thought by his first grade teacher to be “retarded” (her word in 1956, not mine) because he spent the entire school day staring out the window. My grandmother stormed into the principal’s office only to be told that my dad tested with the highest IQ ever seen in the school. Too bad I didn’t inherit the IQ also.
A case of writer’s block helped me understand the value of daydreaming in the creative process. While doing the dishes a few years ago, an image popped into my mind of two people sitting in a coffee shop. I knew they were an author and an actor starting a relationship, one that would be the love of a lifetime. They fascinated me, and I gave them free run of my mind. After a few months, I knew their fate. At that point, I began to write and let them tell their story. It was exhilarating until I finished the first draft at about 92,000 words.
Since then, I’ve spun my wheels on all other projects. Not exhilarating. Writing became a source of frustration, but I couldn’t figure out why the ideas dried up. Where had my creativity gone? What happened to my inspiration? And where was that handsome muse? Even thinking about writing made my brain seize up. The fatigue was overwhelming. I kept berating myself because I was a creative person, and therefore I should simply be able to create. The muse stayed in hiding, and I wondered if I could still call myself a writer.
Writer’s block is a stubborn beast, but so am I. A return to the creative community on Twitter was a beginning. I resolved to write even when I didn’t feel like it. A full rewrite of my novel would be a good way to get in the habit, but the project stalled. All along I had been saying that I didn’t have any brain space left for writing. The space and mental energy were wasted on work and other worries. Instead of daydreaming about characters, I daydreamed what-if scenarios from life. Aha!
And duh. Sounds like it should be easy to fix. Not so much. Inspiration remains elusive. Most days I do make time to write, even if only for a little while. I read, exercise, and listen to podcasts to help feed my brain. Maybe it’s working. Sometimes my characters turn up in my daydreams. At least I can call myself a writer with less guilt. Progress is slow and sporadic, but maybe one of these days the muse will find his way home and like what he sees.