Tag Archives: #mindwandering

#FlashFictionFriday: Mind Wandering (short essay)

I love this image. I found it at Wikimedia Commons and fell in love with the symmetry and the way the colors complement each other, so opposite and yet so pleasing. It inspires my creativity, pushes away the subconscious boundaries we set for ourselves in our daily lives. It makes me wonder what lies beyond the borders. What mysterious thing could be waiting there for me to discover?

When people first learn I am an author with no day job, the first thing they ask (after what the heck are you thinking) is where I get ideas for my tales.  I usually give them some song-and-dance about adapting modern relationships and values to mythological world situations, and while it’s true, it’s not the whole truth.

The truth is, these things just pop into my head, and I think “Wow – that would be a good story.”  I will be riding in the car listening to music, not thinking about anything in particular, and have a flash of brilliance – What if the dark ages never happened? Or How would Europe look if the Druids had conquered Europe instead of the Romans?

If I am smart, I will write the idea down, because I’m 64 years old and the old harddrive is full—too many cute kitty pictures and Weird Al videos, with no room for anything else.

The flow of random thoughts really is the river of creativity for me. Having the time to just sit and daydream is as rare as the March sun around here, but it does happen, and that is when my ideas come to me.  Letting your mind roam free and allowing the possibilities to enter your stream of consciousness (or not, as they will) is good for you.  Fifteen or twenty minutes a day of simply watching the world go by will rejuvenate you.

Some people will say, “I don’t have time to waste daydreaming,” and that’s all right for them. I personally need to throw open the windows of my mind and let the breezes clear away the musty ideas which get in the way of my creativity. For me, the path to writer’s block is paved with “I don’t have time to relax!”

Don’t get me wrong, I get up at 6:30 am and immediately begin blogging. After noon I read for several hours and then I do revisions or work on my current Work In Progress. I read before I go to sleep.  I do two weekly book review blogs besides this blog and all in all I work 10 to 16 hours a day at this job, but it is interspersed with various household tasks and errands.  I also take the time to let my mind rest, simply watching the town go by from my porch.

Some people call it meditation, and some people call it a waste of time. I call it necessary.  I think of my mind as if it were an ‘idea farm.’ Just as a wise farmer allows his fields to occasionally lie fallow, it’s important to let your mind rest. Letting farmlands lie fallow is one of the best ways of allowing the land to replenish its nutrients, and regain its fertility. Letting your mind roam with no particular direction is essential in lowering your stress levels (!) which immediately improves your health and your thought processes.

So I suppose when I am asked where I get ideas for my tales I should tell them the truth:

I don’t really know!


Credits and Attributes

Bruges, View from Rozenhoedkaai, blue hour. By Arcalino / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Bruegge View from Rozenhoedkaai.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Bruegge_View_from_Rozenhoedkaai.jpg&oldid=198969137 (accessed July 28, 2017). Photo: Arcalino / Wikimedia Commons, via Wikimedia Commons

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#amwriting: mindwandering and the creative muse

kleenexI’ve been suffering from a heavy cold all weekend, and doing my work from bed. Me and NyQuil are once again best friends. So, imagine my surprise yesterday when I wrote what was supposed to be today’s blogpost and instead of pressing the “save as draft” button, I hit “publish.”

Oops.

So that meant I didn’t have a post for today. Thus, I have gone to the archives, and pulled up an old post, updated a few thing and voila! I have a post for today. Yesterday’s post  still there, so check it out!


When people first discover I write fantasy tales, the first thing they ask (after what the heck are you thinking) is where I get ideas for my tales.  I usually give them some song-and-dance about adapting modern relationships and values to mythological world situations and while it’s true, it’s not the whole truth.

The real truth is, these thing just pop into my head, and I think “Wow – that would be a good story.”  I will be riding in the car listening to music, not thinking about anything in particular and I will have a flash of brilliance – What if the dark ages never happened? or  How would Europe look if the Druids had conquered Europe instead of the Romans?

If I’m smart, I will write the idea down, because I’m 63 years old and the old main-frame ain’t what she used to be, memory-wise.

The flow of random thoughts really is the river of creativity for me. Letting your mind roam free and allowing the possibilities to enter your stream of consciousness (or not, as they will) is good for you.  Fifteen or twenty minutes a day of simply watching the world go by will rejuvenate you.

Some people will say, “I don’t have time to waste daydreaming,” and that’s all right for them. I personally need to throw open the windows of my mind and let the breezes clear away the musty ideas which get in the way of my creativity. For me, the path to writer’s block is paved with “I don’t have time to relax!”

Don’t get me wrong, I get up at 5:30 am and immediately begin blogging. After noon I read for several hours and then I do revisions or work on my current Work In Progress. I read before I go to sleep.  I do two weekly book review blogs besides this blog, and all in all I work 10 to 16 hours a day at this job, but it is interspersed with various household tasks and errands.  I also take the time to let my mind rest, simply watching the town go by from my back porch.

Some people call it meditation, and some people call it a waste of time.

I call it necessary.

I think of my mind as if it were an ‘idea farm.’.Just as a wise farmer allows his fields to occasionally lie fallow it is important to let your mind rest. Letting farmlands lie fallow is one of the best ways of allowing the land to replenish its nutrients, and regain its fertility. Letting your mind roam with no particular direction is essential in lowering your stress levels (!) which immediately improves your health and your thought processes.

So I guess  when  someone asks me where I get ideas for my tales I should tell them the truth:

I don’t really know!


mindwandering and the creative muse was first published on Life in the Realm of Fantasy on July 11, 2012 under the title The Idea Farm.

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#MindWandering: The Power of Downtime

Veneto,_Bartolomeo_-_Lucrezia_Borgia_(alleged),_detail_of_portraitDaydreaming…wasting time…selfish indulgence, or fountain of creativity?

WebMD says, quote:  “Daydreaming is looked upon negatively because it represents ‘non-doing’ in a society that emphasizes productivity,” says John McGrail, a clinical hypnotherapist in Los Angeles. “We are under constant pressure to do, achieve, produce, succeed.”

Wikipedia, the fount of all knowledge, describes Daydreaming as “a short-term detachment from one’s immediate surroundings, during which a person’s contact with reality is blurred and partially substituted by a visionary fantasy, especially one of happy, pleasant thoughts, hopes or ambitions, imagined as coming to pass, and experienced while awake.”

Apparently we daydream less as we get older. I wonder, is this nature, or nurture?

What really happens when we allow ourselves to just sit and think about nothing in particular? What happens on a neurological level when we let our minds off the leash, to run free and unencumbered?

One interesting fact is that apparently, if we daydream about the past, we tend to forget what we were doing before the daydream started. This happens to me all the time.

But most people don’t ponder the past. “Daydreaming is often about anticipating the future, especially in a fantasy context,” noted Peter Delaney, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, in the July 3, 2013 issue of National Geographic.

'A_Girl_Copying_a_Drawing'_by_Martin_Drolling,_Pushkin_Museum PD 100 via wikimedia commonsAnd according to the Daily Mail, Prof. Moshe Bar, of the Gonda (Goldschmied) Multidisciplinary Brain Research Center, said, “Over the last 15 or 20 years, scientists have shown that – unlike the localized neural activity associated with specific tasks – mind wandering involves the activation of a gigantic default network involving many parts of the brain.”

Also, I have just learned that daydreaming turns off parts of your brain. It’s true–our brain has an analytic part that helps us make reasoned decisions, and an empathetic part that allows us to relate to others. Researchers have discovered that when you are daydreaming, your mind naturally cycles through the different modes of thinking, analytic and empathetic. Apparently, during this time the analytic and empathetic parts of your brain tend to turn each other off.

Another intriguing thing I have only just found out is that the physiology of the brain itself, and not the “mind” controls our daydreams. Anthony Jack, a cognitive scientist at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio says, “How we daydream and think depends on the brain’s structure. …(That) structure is constantly changing in small ways—as we learn new things the connections between nerve cells change.” (Read “Beyond the Brain” in National Geographic magazine.)

We have long known that creative people are often guilty of daydreaming, but researchers have shown that daydreaming makes you more creative.

“Many times the ‘dialogue’ that occurs when the daydreaming mind cycles through different parts of the brain accesses information that was dormant or out of reach,” notes Eugenio M. Rothe, a psychiatrist at Florida International University. “Likewise, the daydreaming mind may make an association between bits of information that the person had never considered in that particular way.”

Autumn_Landscape_With_Pond_And_Castle_Tower-Alfred_Glendening-1869According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a wandering mind can impart a distinct cognitive advantage.

This means that daydreaming is actually good for you. It boosts the brain, making our thought process more effective. Apparently letting the mind wander allows a kind of ‘default neural network’ to engage when our brain is at wakeful rest, as in meditation, rather than actively focused on the outside world. When we daydream, our brain is freed up to process tasks more effectively.

This is good to know, because as an author I spend an astounding amount of time daydreaming, and I would hate to be simply wasting time!

(This post was first published September 15, 2015 on Edgewise Words Inn)

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