Active Daydreaming: When do your thoughts fly?

So today I was working out– running and listening to music– with a new book idea in the back of my mind. At some point, I started thinking about that book. I started thinking about the main character and who she was and how she behaves and what’s in her past and these scenes, these tiny glimpses of her life just began to reveal themselves to me. I started seeing relationships between things, characters, picturing events. After a while I looked up and was stunned to see 30 minutes was nearly up. I had totally tuned out my music, though my body was still running in time with it. I had been in THE ZONE.

One of my biggest rules for idea development is to spend time in places you can hear yourself think. This invites the mind to wander, to slip into domino thought streams and envision and invent, but I must admit, getting into active daydream mode (where your ideas freely leap from one to the next for any real stretch of time) is something I find much harder to do on command than not. Near impossible to do before a word processor.

The reason I wanted to share today’s experience (other than sheerly marveling that wow, that actually happens sometimes) is that to ask other writers: Do you notice any pattern about when your mind seems to open up the most (e.g., when you do dishes, exercise, read, etc.)? When parts of the story come at you of their own volition? I once read that Stephen King walks for three hours every day, thinking about his books. Maybe there’s something to it.

5 thoughts on “Active Daydreaming: When do your thoughts fly?

  1. That’s why I adore long hikes! Stepping away from technology and civilization for a bit open my mind like nothing else. I’m positive that I wear the strangest looks on my face when I’m hiking, because I’m cooking up writing ideas!

  2. Try yard work. Listening to the birds and other nature sounds lets the mind wander To think .

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. Without a doubt Julie, doing something that doesn’t require much mental input (like running) releases the mind to wander. I’ve solved a couple of intractable ‘issues’ while running – the solutions have become crystal clear.
    Many years ago I worked a few weeks on a production line for a holiday job. Once the routine was established my mind was set free and it was astonishing how quickly those hours flew by.

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