Monday, April 4, 2016

Mindful Daydreaming to Discover Your Story

By Kimberly Jayne

As an author, I use many tools to coax my stories onto the page. One of my favorites is mindful daydreaming, a sort of self-guided meditation that breaks through mental blocks. I equate this activity to excavating the gray matter, digging past the idea mantle, and settling into the planning and plotting layers where scenes and sequences are born, and where I mine for story nuggets that will elevate my work to its highest form.

Last week, I needed to mindful daydream a couple of story sequences that were only partially done, and I really wanted to brighten them up with unique details that would boost the tension and the emotions, exacerbate the conflicts, and improve the flow from one scene to the next. And while I didn't exactly have the ideal place to do it, I did have a few hours in which I was doing nothing: sitting in the center seat on a flight from Austin to Phoenix. 

It worked far better than I'd have guessed, because in less than 15 minutes, I had about five explicit scenes and sequences drawn in my mind—some entirely new. I couldn't wait to land and get them down on paper.

Want to try it? Here's how I do it:
First, I find a quiet place, get my body into a relaxed position (preferably lying down), and close my eyes. Then I pull out a file from my psyche—at least, that's how it feels. In this file are the fragments of a scene, an unfinished scene that might be giving me trouble, or a scene I want to enrich. And then I let my imagination run wild. 

Like directing a movie, I visualize character movements, hear dialogue, taste flavors, touch objects, and generally feel sensations as my character or as an observer of my character. I spend anywhere from five to twenty minutes in this state, sometimes replaying the scenes and adding or modifying as I go. At the end of the session, I quickly write down the new scenes I've created so I can flesh them out as time permits. 

You can see why being surrounded by strangers and squished in an airplane seat may not be the optimal environment for mindful daydreaming, but my experience proves that the more you do it, the better you get at it, and the faster your results no matter where you are. I personally never leave a mindful daydreaming session without new and exciting elements to add to my story. 

Mindful daydreaming has the added benefit of leaving me feeling refreshed and rejuvenated afterward—and psyched to get back to my story. Also? Mindful daydreaming helps you work through real-life problems, as you dig to find your personal truths and solutions you might not have been able to see before. 

Try it, why don't you, and let me know how it works for you.


Kimberly Jayne is the author of romantic comedy and dark fantasy. You can find more about her and her novels at "Read Kimberly Jayne" (http://readkimberly.com). 

Take My Husband, Please! By Kimberly Jayne

After Sophie files for divorce from Will, his unexpected financial apocalypse brings him back under her roof. Awkward! And if that’s not bad enough, Sophie’s new guy—a sexy and successful entrepreneur—is not keen on dating her without proof that Will is truly out of the picture. Sophie and her best friend concoct a brilliant bet to keep Will “occupied,” but things take a surprise turn for the crazy when Sophie gets roped into sending her ex on five blind dates! You'll laugh, you'll cry, but you won't want this story to end.


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6 comments:

  1. Thank you, Stephanie, for giving this a name. I've done this for years and it works wonders. Sometimes just getting up from my keyboard and talking a walk while mentally doing the same also works for me. But the idea that I can shit down and access my b-reel is always refreshing.

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  2. Yes, I have done this for years, too, and it was only recently that I saw it had a name. Whatever we call it, it works every time for me!

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  3. I find that the daydream or real dream process clarifies things in my mind, too ... But so does listening to the character voices in my head (but who is going there)

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  4. As writers,I guess we have a ton of voices in our heads. We just channel them better onto the page. :-)

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  5. I have to echo those who say: thank you for giving what I do a name. I also want to continue that and say for helping me frame it in a way that makes it feel productive. It shouldn't matter. But today feels like it matters. I won't feel like I'm simply daydreaming.

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  6. I hear you. How we choose to plumb the depths of our brains in pursuit of those unique story elements that make our work stand out most definitely matters. I think when we can visualize our scenes like we're watching a movie, they translate better to the page and to the reader. Daydream on!

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