“Scheduling” daydreaming time…

Last week I posted about the fantastic Conversation with Joyce Carol Oates  I attended. The prolific writer was in Rome and shared her views on writing, literature and the creative process.

One of the things that struck me was how often she mentioned her need to be quiet and think – to daydream – as the most important aspect of the creative process. She spoke about how much time she sits quietly looking out the window, or thinks while out on walks or jogs, and how she uses that time to let her imagination run free and to come up with ideas and storylines for her work.

It left me wondering – is this unstructured daydreaming time more difficult to carve out in our hectic, modern world? Does the constant distraction of Smartphones, ipads and keeping up with social media have a negative effect  on the sustained, uninterrupted thinking we need throughout the creative process?

Like many people, my work is increasingly dependent on modern technology, and I often feel  a slave to this technology. This always leaves me craving tech-free time – the joy of being blissfully unconnected.

I spend a lot of weekends out in the mountains of Abruzzo with my family. We have no internet. Even cell phone reception is spotty. But there is lots of time for long walks and hikes and bicycle rides and horseback riding and long picnics.

I spend a lot of time just looking at the mountains or watching the clouds and thinking. This is where I work through many story ideas and I’m always more productive during these get-aways. I love the slower rhythms and the creative flow that I believe is stifled by too much technology and the constant interruptions they necessitate.

What about you, writers? When are you most productive? Do you “schedule in” daydreaming time when you’re working thorough plot lines or creating characters in your story?


  1. Chantel Rhondeau on July 6, 2012 at 9:14 am

    Well, I am a daydreamer for sure. Before I ever knew I wanted to be a writer, I always lived out little daydreams in my mind. Normally, my daydreaming time is during the time I try to fall asleep. The good ideas stick and find their way into my WIP. Your peaceful mountains in Abruzzo sound lovely though!

    • kimberlysullivan on July 6, 2012 at 5:03 pm

      Thanks, Chantel! Yes, I suspect all writers are daydreamers at heart. : )

  2. ledrakenoir on July 6, 2012 at 10:24 am

    Yes I’m useing the nature at the same way – to stop up so “the body can get up in contact with the brain again”… ‘hahaha’

    Both useing hiking in the some of the european mountains serval times a year and almost daily I take a break and use my mountainbike – breaks from my busy schedules… 😉

    • kimberlysullivan on July 6, 2012 at 5:05 pm

      Thanks for your comment, Ledrakenoir! I second you on the mountain biking – I love it, and my mind always wanders as I’m enjoying my ride (well, unless the hill is too steep!) : )

  3. Melinda on July 7, 2012 at 4:20 am

    Love the idea of quiet time, which almost seems impossible with three boys. But, when I get it, I am in heaven. I LOVE daydreaming and truly believe it’s part of the creative process. All my ideas come from dreams, be it in sleep or awake. 🙂 Love that you visit Abruzzo often. Now we know what inspired you!

    • kimberlysullivan on July 9, 2012 at 2:19 pm

      Haha, Melinda. I can understand that home with three boys isn’t the most conducive environment to daydreaming… although I admit I manage to ‘lapse’ out of the chaos every once in a while. Survival instinct? : ) And it was fun to write about the area where I do so much of that daydreaming, too.

  4. Karla Gomez on July 7, 2012 at 7:51 am

    Sadly, my new schedule hasn’t left me with time. Even thinking creatively has been hard to squeeze in! Don’t let me grow up, please!
    I love nature, but haven’t the time. This upcoming Wednesday will be my day off, and I hope I can engage in nature and creative thinking!!

    • kimberlysullivan on July 9, 2012 at 2:20 pm

      Good luck on Wednesday, Karla! Even a free day here and there works wonders…

  5. susancarey on July 7, 2012 at 10:36 am

    I agree that quiet time needs to be uninterrupted quiet time. I find that I’m often distracted by noise where I live in Amsterdam. For that reason I rarely get creative work done in the summer months. I have an allotment to flee to however, which is a great refuge for generating ideas.

    • kimberlysullivan on July 9, 2012 at 2:23 pm

      Thanks for the comment, Susan. Oooh, I love Amsterdam!It’s always different when you’re a tourist visiting, but that always seems to me the ideal daydreaming city.

      • susancarey on July 9, 2012 at 2:35 pm

        That’s true, in comparison with somewhere huge like London it’s easier to find quiet moments. I suppose wherever you live that place will seem noisier and more hectic than a holiday destination.

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