Daydreams to Creativity

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I find it funny in both senses of the word that there were some subjects at school that I was completely disinterested in and yet which in real life I found absorbing.

Geography is one good example. I love maps, I’m fascinated by natural forms and geological history and social geography, yet the classroom sessions bored me senseless. These days, though, a favourite read is National Geographic.

The sciences are another example. I couldn’t drop them quickly enough, and yet even at 14, one of the attractions of a local babysitting job was the pile of enticing New Scientist magazines permanently decorating the coffee table.

I still enjoy New Scientist. One of the great delights of the Internet age is being able to subscribe for free to a weekly abstract of New Scientist, and there’s always at least one heading I have to click onto immediately.

This week Daydream your way to creativity was always going to catch my eye.

Concentration is overrated. Psychologists are finding that if you let your mind wander it may well stumble upon better ideas.

I’m slightly surprised psychologists are only just finding this now. Isn’t it blindingly obvious? Or do you have to be engaged in creative activity of one sort or another to instinctively understand and appreciate the value of the drifting mind in certain situations?

Making space for mind wandering is as important as food for physical sustenance. Middle Daughter used to regularly used to sit on her bed gazing into space for 20 minutes or more before getting dressed in the morning. Quite how she managed to daydream with me shrieking up the staircase every five minutes is an interesting question, but I felt quite envious of her ability to sit motionless for so long on a weekday morning.

My own solution these days is walking. Walking without a phone and walking without an iPod and walking alone or with the dog. Drifting from a state of daydreaming to a state of mindfulness of the present surroundings (neither of which states figure much in the rest of my day) is invariably productive although the exact nature of this is frankly not immediately identifiable.

But that’s the whole point: it’s all going on at an unconscious level, and at some point will emerge just when I open my mind up to a problem/issue/solution.

The joys of daydreaming.

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