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More Daydreaming, More Creativity

“When I don’t build in cushions of time between activities for reflection and creative synthesis, my writing suffers, my mood suffers, everything suffers.”

Those are comments by writer Lisa Rivero, who continues, “Without this imaginative life, we might still be productive, but at what cost?

“I know that when I give in to the temptation to pack every spare hour or moment with tasks…I may still write as much, just not as well.”

From my post Developing Creativity by Staring Out the Window – quoting from her post If you don’t value your imaginative life, no one else will.

[One of her books: “A Parent’s Guide to Gifted Teens: Living with Intense and Creative Adolescents.”]

Packing “every spare hour or moment with tasks” as Rivero puts it, is something I more or less constantly feel pressured to do. But, as she points out, at what cost? Stress and overwork and other challenges are among the consequences for me, and probably many writers.

What is the potential value of not always doing?

A new post by Scott Barry Kaufman, Ph.D. describes research indicating that creative people tend to daydream more, even while concentrating on tasks.

He writes that since his mentor and colleague, Jerome L. Singer, published his 1966 seminal book, “Daydreaming: An Introduction to the Experimental Study of Inner Experience,” the “scientific study of daydreaming has taken off.

“A key theme that has emerged is the striking continuity between nightdreaming and daydreaming and the ability of creative people to harness this continuity. Neuroscience has allowed us to take this research to new, creative heights that were unimaginable when Singer published his book.”

He goes on to explain that our default brain network “involves various aspects of our self, such as our self-representations, dreams, imagination, current concerns, autobiographical memory and perspective-taking ability.

“Those with higher default network activity during rest have a tendency to daydream more frequently, which makes sense if one thinks of the default network as involving our inner stream of consciousness.

“When most of us awaken, our working memory brain network re-engages, and our default brain network recedes into the background.”

But, he adds, although that may be true for most people, “Creative folks and those with schizophrenia tend to have an overactive default network.

“Prior research has suggested that the thing that seems to differentiate creative but functional individuals from those in a mental institution is that the functional folks appear to have the ability to engage both brain networks, and they can use their working memory network to control their attention.

“Those who lose grip on reality and become paranoid and delusional have let the floodgates down, so to speak, letting too much of their default network control their attention.”

Read more of his fascinating post: Why Daydreamers Are More Creative.

[The post is the source of the image.]

Scott Barry Kaufman, Ph.D., is a cognitive psychologist at NYU, and Co-founder of The Creativity Post – a great resource.

He is co-author (with James C. Kaufman, PhD.) of “The Psychology of Creative Writing.”

One of the themes that writer Jonah Lehrer develops in his upcoming book “Imagine: How Creativity Works” is that daydreaming can enhance creativity and innovation. See my earlier post Jonah Lehrer on the Science of Creativity & Innovation.

Here is another book that might be of interest:

Daydreams at Work: Wake Up Your Creative Powers” by Amy Fries.
– Review: ‘Amy Fries kicks daydreaming out of the closet and shows how great innovators Einstein and Steve Jobs and innovative companies 3M and Google used daydreaming to their advantages. Her skillful blend of scientific evidence, practical applications, and subtle wit convinces you that daydreaming sparks and enriches creativity whether you work in an office, a science lab, or a writer’s studio. ‘Daydreams at Work’ takes you to the middle distance, an energy-producing and visionary place.’ –Ann Weisgarber, author of The Personal History of Rachel DuPree (Macmillan New Writing, 2008)

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More Daydreaming, More Creativity

Douglas Eby

Douglas EbyDouglas Eby, MA/Psychology, is a writer and researcher on psychology and personal development related to creativity; creator of the , and author of books including [link to book site with excerpts.]
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Some excerpts from The Creative Mind are included in his newsletter .
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APA Reference
Eby, D. (2012). More Daydreaming, More Creativity. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 28, 2020, from


Last updated: 26 Jul 2012
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