Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
After Page One: Dreaming

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A guest post to motivate, encourage and inspire...


The Magical Powers of Daydreaming

Boredom opens the door to mind wandering which allows for the possibility of creative thinking. It’s the magical place between regular life and the birth of an idea that means the beginning of a journey for a writer. If we don’t allow ourselves to stop and do nothing once in a while, we might never find the stories lurking inside of us. I wish a more experienced writer had told me this golden secret sooner, had pulled me aside, whispered in my ear: allow yourself to become bored and then just watch what happens. I would have spent a lot less time on my iPhone these past few years; I would have watched less reality television while I folded laundry. As a full-time working mother, I don’t have the time or funds to travel the world and have new experiences on a regular basis; finding inspiration can sometimes be akin to pulling the sword from the stone. But one needn’t leave the nest to find new stories. Instead, it might just take a little boredom to stimulate our creativity to bloom.

Photo by Amanda Jaros

Photo by Amanda Jaros

Writers don’t talk much about this part of the writing process, we tend to focus on the actual writing, and the craft involved there, but the daydreaming that is a natural outgrowth of boredom is essential to our inventiveness. We have active imaginations, it’s part of the reason we write in the first place. Our imaginations tend to really wake up when we’re quiet and still, which is why many of our best ideas present themselves the moment we’ve settled into bed and gotten cozy under the covers. In that tranquil state, we’re forced to pay attention to the thoughts that have been dancing around in our heads all day while we’ve been busy.

The extended focus required for writing doesn’t always jibe with the stop/start nature of parenting. But daydreaming does. I can daydream while I tie my toddler’s shoes or load the dishwasher. It’s how I incubate the shimmering, ephemeral beings that appear in my mind out of the ether and nurture them into characters of substance and backstory, or discover plots teeming with conflict and surprising twists. Daydreaming lets me walk in my characters’ shoes so I can help them make decisions that are authentic, enabling the story to unfold in an organic way. Sometimes I might even imagine the movie version of my story to mine it for visual or action-oriented details. If possible, it’s ideal to jot down the best ideas that spring to mind during daydreaming sessions. Once they’re captured, I like to let these ideas marinate and their flavors deepen in my subconscious for a few days before I commit them to the story.

It can be difficult for mothers who write to get words on the page as often as we’d like, but daydreaming makes it possible for entire worlds to spring from our fingertips when we finally get ourselves in front of the computer.


Join our After Page One series. We’re looking for 300 to 500-word guest posts that motivate, inspire, and encourage other mama-writers, and we’d love to feature YOUR thoughts about getting started, getting back to a writing project, integrating writing with motherhood, reading, or having a positive attitude. The list is endless, but here are some questions that might help you get started. We’ll publish a short bio so readers can learn more about you and your projects. 

Danielle Ryan spent time working as a small town news reporter and as a writer for a number of well-known websites before turning her attention to creative writing. She has a short story forthcoming in Brain, Child Magazine, one of her short stories earned an honorable mention from Glimmer Train Magazine and she is currently at work on a novel. Danielle lives with her husband and their three children in a cozy yellow house.

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Yes! Daydreaming is malleable and effective for inspiration! I find my best writing ideas come to me if I have the chance to walk outside. When the weather cooperated and my kids would sit in a double stroller, I could go for walks and let my mind wander.
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