Monday, December 8, 2014

Strategic Daydreaming in 3 Easy Steps

Pepper here, and over the past month, my writing world has gotten a lot busier due to one simple word: Deadlines. Not that I didn’t place deadlines on myself before (and Angie recently had a post about some of the pitfalls in having deadlines if we’re not careful), but with three book contracts under way, the word “deadline” has gotten a lot scarier.

Like many of you, my life doesn’t just revolve around writing. There are lots of other responsibilities that give those deadlines a bigger intimidation-factor than they might have otherwise.  Because life is crazy for most of us, writing time his extremely valuable. How do we make it fit in the middle of work, kids, school, laundry, dinner, and all the other things that go along with living? I put up a general schedule of my week – which probably looks a lot like some of your schedules. FULL!!

One way I nick out time is through strategic daydreaming. (I had to post this pic of my daydreaming 12 (almost 13) year old daughter. She was thinking about her fictional crush J

I have driving time in my day between therapy sessions, where I’m going from one school to the next. I also wait in carpool line, fast food lines, grocery lines, etc. So with the time I’m given, I try to squeeze out writing moments. Sometimes I spend those free moments praying, but there are other times when I use it for strategic daydreaming.

What is strategic daydreaming?

It’s planning time to daydream for the purpose of story development.

Here are three ways to have strategic daydreaming:

A Novel Idea app
1.       Planned Daydreaming
Of course daydreaming can happen spontaneously, but when I make sure to plan it into one of my driving times or during carpool line, I’m more likely to get more done. For example, for the first two driving times, I might daydream about the YA book I’m working on and then for the next two I’ll switch to my Contemporary Romance. During this time I might work through an upcoming scene, strengthen a character arc, or brainstorm a new idea. I usually go into the ‘time’ with a general plan. If I’m scene daydreaming, then I might dream up a great episode of character banter that I’ll want to remember, so I might use one of my favorite apps called A Novel Idea. I can record my voice into text and have the info for later (which I’ll discuss a little more in Productive Daydreaming below)

2.       Primed Daydreaming
When I’ve planned what I want to daydream about, I’ll prime the time with something that inspires me to think of that story. For me, it’s music. I usually have a CD or playlist I’ve made of various music to inspire thoughts of that particular story. Sometimes I’ll bring along a binder with pics of the characters or setting to help. It makes the daydreaming more focused for me.

3.       Productive Daydreaming
If I’ve planned and primed well, then my time is usually more productive. I’ll either have the good beginnings of a scene I’ve recorded into A Novel Idea or written down a few notes on character. For example, I had to take my oldest son to the dentist on Friday. I sat in the waiting room for an hour and wrote the first part of a chapter in shorthand – but I’d planned and primed the time by making a binder of characters, history, and setting the night before which helped me ‘get in the mood’ of writing this scene.

By the way, A Novel Idea is a helpful app if you have more than one story going on at the same time. Right now I have four in some form of writing, edits, or brainstorming (although there are a lot more listed on my app as you can see :-)– so being able to save information to that particularly story is helpful.

Sure, daydreaming might not always work out, but it’s been a good time saver for me that easily fit into my packed schedule. It preps me for when I do have a little time to sit down and write – and I desperately needs to me prepared for those moments!

What about you? What are some timesavers you have in place?

Pepper Basham writes romance peppered with grace and humor. She’s a native of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a mom of five, a speech-language pathologist, and a lover of chocolate. She writes a variety of genres, but enjoys sprinkling her native culture of Appalachia in them all.  She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she works with kids with special needs, searches for unique hats, and plots new ways to annoy her wonderful friends at her writing blog, The Writer’s Alley. She is represented by Julie Gwinn and is debuting her first novel in Spring 2015.




Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

You are one busy lady!! I'm always in awe of how your time is taken up by life, but you manage to spin many stories so brilliantly. Thanks for letting us into your process and showing us how a master does it. :)

Jeanne Takenaka said...

I love this! Strategic daydreaming.....never thought to do that before. I have time on each end of dropping kids off at school to do some of that. :) I'll have to establish the practice.

BTW, congrats on the THREE books. I'm so looking forward to reading your work, Pepper!

Tori Starling said...

Some of my best thoughts come to me while I am driving. I have mastered the art of writing while keeping my eyes on the road! This post gives me ideas about how to make my daydreaming more deliberate and planned. I also get inspired by music. I love the idea of listening to the playlist while daydreaming. Must try. Thanks! :)

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Oh this is so so good!! I need to start doing this! And I'm downloading this app stat!

Ashley Clark said...

Love, love, love this post and how you redeem the time even when it seems scant! Great advice!

Pepper said...

Thanks for your encouragement, Sherrinda! You know the madness which is involved in a full family, full job, and then being married to a guy in the ministry. Gets crazy :-)

Pepper said...

Thanks so much!! I really do try to seize every moment I can.
There are times I just sit in my van and drive in a numb daze...and sometimes that's exactly what I need.
But many days I try to make the time work for me :-)
So glad this seemed to be helpful

Pepper said...

So glad to give some ideas, Tori. I get some good ideas while driving. It's good to have safe ways to save the thoughts :-)

Good luck with your writing :-)

Pepper said...

Thanks, Ames.
I used to leave notebooks strategically through the house too. Little ones - so that if I got an idea while I was in the middle of caring for the kids, I'd have paper and pen handy :-)

Pepper said...

Thanks, Ames.
I used to leave notebooks strategically through the house too. Little ones - so that if I got an idea while I was in the middle of caring for the kids, I'd have paper and pen handy :-)

Pepper said...

Thanks, Ash. What's the quote? Necessity is the mother of invention? :-)