LWC: thank you to guest blogger, Sam Taylor, for his post on the importance of daydreaming.
It’s one of my most vivid childhood memories: the sarcastic adult voice, my classmates’ mocking laughter, dragging me rudely from the daydream into which I had, without meaning to, retreated. All my early life, I was told that I must concentrate, snap out of it, come back to the land of the living. (Even if, to the seven-year-old me, the land inside my mind seemed infinitely more alive than that grey, sterile classroom.)
When I’m tutoring creative-writing courses, however, the one thing I will never do is try to stop my students from daydreaming. It would be like giving them an inkless pen and telling them to write. Daydreaming is the root, the wellspring of all fiction. You might need the rational side of your brain to work out the complexities of a plot or to edit your messy first draft, but no one can ‘think up’ a novel in a cold, logical way.
Imaginative stories of all kinds (novels, short stories, plays, screenplays, narrative poems) come from somewhere deep inside us: a place that can only be reached through the suspension of thought. That’s why all children are natural storytellers. It is something that is educated out of us, and anyone who wishes to write fiction needs to retread the path to their childhood; to remember the glorious liberty, the magical release, the infinite possibilities of daydreaming.
So if you’re sitting in one of my courses and I see that tell-tale faraway look in your eyes, don’t worry – I’m not going to rap you on the knuckles with a ruler. Because daydreaming, for a writer, is not a distraction or a waste of time: it’s the beginning of the story.
Sam Taylor is the author of three novels, the first of which – The Republic of Trees – has been adapted into a film (All Good Children) which was premiered at this year’s Cannes Festival. He lives in southwest France, near the Pyrenees, where he offers a series of summer writing holidays. To find out more, go to www.french-workshop.com