Do you wish you had a secret weapon tucked away in your writer’s toolbox, one you could pull out whenever your story hits a plot hole or the words just won’t come? I have good news for you…
You already have one.
And if you hope to write a novel that will stay in your readers hearts and minds long after “The End,” then you’ll want to learn all about this powerful weapon…and how to use it well.
What is it?
If you just rolled your eyes, I get it, but stick with me. How many times have you heard , “You’re never going to get anywhere in life by daydreaming all the time”?
A thousand and one, right?
How do I know? Because you’re a writer, and we writers tend to walk through life with our heads in the clouds. And most of us have gotten more than our fair share of flak about it over the years. Teachers, parents, bosses…they all tend to view daydreaming as a complete waste of time.
But I’m here to tell you, these people – the ones who walk through life with their feet planted solidly on terra firma – well, they’re obviously not writers. If they were, they’d be encouraging you to dream away!
Because our best stories are often born in our dreams.
Some of the world’s most enduring classics were inspired by their authors’ dreams. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. Misery by Stephen King. And that’s just to name a few.
Whether they spring from a particularly active REM cycle or an impromptu daytime dream session, our flights of fancy are the very backbone of our writing.
Let it go!
If the belief that daydreaming is a waste of time was drilled into your soul years ago, I’m here to tell you, friend…it’s time to let it go. Writing is hard work, but it’s not all work.
Sometimes, the very best thing you can do as a writer is close the laptop, lay down on the couch, and indulge in a long, luxurious session of daydreaming. Dreaming isn’t just how many of our works in progress came to be, it’s often the most vital tool in helping us flesh them out, as well.
Struggling with a plot hole? Daydreaming can help you find the solution. The human brain works a whole lot faster than ten typing fingers, and since dreaming doesn’t leave any embarrassing evidence behind, you’re free to let your mind wander at will. Go as far out into left field as you want to…because sometimes that’s where the best plot points are hidden. And when you find one, add it to your outline as fast as humanly possible. Seriously. Don’t wait. I know it seems like you could never forget the perfect plot point…but I’ve done it. And it’s a sickening feeling, knowing you had it but you can’t remember it. #ADDbrain
Having a hard time fleshing out a flat character? Dream about his childhood. Picture him engaged in a hobby or sport. Put him in a situation that makes him angry (or scared or sad or any other emotion) and see how he reacts. Dream up random scenes featuring this character interacting with others, even if they won’t be part of the story in the end. All of this can help you figure out what makes this character tick, which will help you write him in a way that will make him more real to readers.
Wherever you happen to be stuck in your novel, daydreaming can help. Honestly, I can’t think of a problem I’ve had with a work in progress that I haven’t been able to solve by getting my head lost in the clouds for a while. In fact, most of the best parts of my novel came about thanks to my well-honed ability to let my mind wander. Again…#ADDbrain It’s a blessing and a curse. 😉
Make it a priority.
By this point, you may be thinking, “This all makes sense, but my life is crazy-busy! I don’t have the time to sprawl on my couch and indulge in a little dream theater.”
Friend, I get it. We’re all busy. But here’s a question that might hit close to home…
How busy are you…really? How much time do you spend watching TV? Or gaming? Or on Facebook? Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m not judging! I’m totally guilty of falling into the black hole also known as my DVR…for days, y’all.
And I’m not telling you to quit watching TV and drop out of the Facebook universe entirely. All I can say is this: if you really want to birth your book into the world, you might have to shift your priorities for a while. And if you’re at a sticking point with your work in progress, then only you can decide how much time you’re willing to carve out of your down time to dream up a solution.
Now, I know there are people who legitimately don’t have an hour to spare in their schedules. But there’s no rule that says how long a daydreaming session has to be…or even where it has to be. When you’re working out a problem in your story, every spare minute counts, and you can let your mind roam free just about anywhere.
I don’t know about you, but I have scenes running through my head all day long – while I’m making coffee, when I’m in the shower, as I’m waiting for curbside pickup at Chick-Fil-A, even while I’m driving (which, come to think of it, is probably not the best time to be daydreaming).
When my meandering mind hits on something good, I scribble it down as quickly as I can, and then I get back to whatever I was doing and let my mind wander again. Because when you find a vein of gold – or even just a nugget – there’s bound to be more lurking down deeper, just waiting to be unearthed.
You’re a writer, my friend, which makes you a dreamer.
And that is a wonderful thing.
So the next time someone looks down their nose and accuses you of being a dreamer, just give them a grin filled with delight and say, “Thank you! Thank you so much for seeing that in me.”
Have dreams ever influenced your writing? Tell me about it in the comments below.
And come back tomorrow for my last post of the week, in which I’ll reveal my five favorite books on the craft of writing! There are some true gems on the list, so don’t miss it! Until then…buckle up, buttercup, and let’s write. 😊