Friday, October 18, 2013

To write well, daydream well

Jessica Lahey, an author and former teacher, writes in The Atlantic about the lost art of daydreaming and its value for our children.

She quotes psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman:
The rewards include self- awareness, creative incubation, improvisation and evaluation, memory consolidation, autobiographical planning, goal driven thought, future planning, retrieval of deeply personal memories, reflective consideration of the meaning of events and experiences, simulating the perspective of another person, evaluating the implications of self and others’ emotional reactions, moral reasoning, and reflective compassion.
If it's good for children, why isn't it good for adults? Well, it is.

On a 30-minute walk on my road in the evening I often create an entire 750-word column in my mind. It needs a bit of sharpening, of course, but it's there. It springs forth seemingly out of nowhere. I've always marveled at this, but it should be no surprise. A mind at rest from the daily toil is free to play.

Sigmund Freud makes the connection for us:
Might we not say that every child at play behaves like a creative writer, in that he creates a world of his own, or, rather, rearranges the things of his world in a new way which pleases him? The creative writer does the same as the child at play. He creates a world of phantasy which he takes very seriously — that is, which he invests with large amounts of emotion — while separating it sharply from reality.
Of course, you might want to first close your office door.

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