Is daydreaming necessary to create?
Heck yeah! And a lot of other writers feel this way as well. Daydreaming allows you to tap into your sub-conscience and bring out a deeper world in your stories. When you write, you go into a universe inside your mind. You create something out of nothing. This place inside is just about as real as the physical world, and offers so much material for writing. The problem is getting there.
There are people who can go into trances in the middle of a busy city cafe, while some need quiet and concentration. To create a story there shouldn't be a lot of outside distractions, but in today's world that's hard to come by.
You may be able to pop out a burst of idea, a hook, or ending, or some really cool scene with these quick thoughts. Maybe even an underlying theme to a story you had no clue as to where it was going. It can happen at any moment: Running to catch a train, waiting online in a café, or simply walking on the street. You jot down the idea and wonder where that came from?
Our subconscious works on it, and in today's day and age it's not easy to catch a few moments to just sit down, daze off and think, let alone snatching some time to actually write. (That's another post, though.)
You can work on the story with your conscious mind, editing and such, but you still must get into that trance here and there--especially if you need to add a scene or build a believable world.
But getting back to the day dreaming part, if you can't think of the world, go into it, live in it, then you can't make it sound real and believable.
As the writer goes deeper into the daydream, they see more things, feelings of things, smells of things, taste. This raw material is extracted and put onto paper and eventually may become a story.
There are many different ways to slip into a creative reverie. Meditation. Music. Reading a book.
One thing I find myself doing sometimes is destroying thoughts that are perhaps not too pleasing. They could be a very disturbing thoughts at times. You have to watch these, try to understand why they disturb you, figure out how you can use them in a story, or just let them naturally dissolve into something you can use. Go on that journey in your mind. Let thoughts pop into existence and you will see some stay and some disappear. And remember, if you're in horror then those bad thoughts can be gold.
I've read about some writers who don't like the thoughts they go into, Stephen King with Pet Sematary is one that comes to mind, with the young boy, Gage, dying. But, according to Tor, it was his last book in a contractual agreement to Double Day and it ended up being one of his biggest hits.
Sometimes your mind may show you bad things, very bad things, and then you move onto something else, the something that perhaps you wanted to see, were waiting to see. Just let your thoughts go free and wander. Pretend, if it gets so bad, that you are in a bubble, or a ship, watching the thought, but you can not be touched. You can only view the happenings from a safe place. See what you see, understand and accept it. You will feel much better if you do. I admit, I still try to snuff certain thoughts, but you never know if those are the thoughts that push you in the direction of a hit.
It's said that writers are crazy. Of course this subject is for another post at another time, but it touches on the daydreaming thing. I can see why they say that writers are crazy--because we have lots of characters in our heads talking to themselves. They are all small portions of us, different parts of our mind that talk to each other. So in essence you can say writers talk to themselves, but on a bigger scale. If you understand what you're doing and accept it, then you know how to come out of these trances and be "normal" again--whatever normal is to you, of course, that's a matter of perspective.
Now, if you can't come out of this world you've gone into, and you find yourself talking to the characters and seeing things that are supposed to be only in your mind, then you may have to seek professional help. Though, sometimes writers do have conversations with the characters and a bit of the world does seep into their daily lives, but they know that it's not real. It's a sloppy line between insanity and dedicated creation ☺. This is also what makes the job so fun, when you're entrenched in this dream world and see the things happening right before your hypothetical eyes.
Sometimes I can't think of words unless I tap into this state of mind. They just don't come to me, I can't see from all sides of a scene or issue and it looks flat. There are certain ways a scene/character/theme should be presented. None of this is set in stone, that's why I sound so cryptic here. But you should get an idea of what I mean if you've been there.
An experiment was done led by Benjamin Baird and Jonathan Schooler at the University of California at Santa Barbara where they gave students a task of having two minutes to list as many uses as possible for mundane objects such as toothpicks, bricks and clothes hangers. The subjects were put under different conditions to prove that daydreaming was more effective and this was because the daydreamers were able to come up with new uses for all the objects, their minds brought them into a world where they held the brick and interacted with it, and made it real.
There are, from what I see, and in laymen's terms, three stages. The conscience thought, this is in the realm of reality and deals with analyzing things in the physical world and what you know. It's stiff. The middle is a mix of both, hurts a bit from time to time, grinding against each other, but you can get a few things out of it. But the third, full on daydreaming, is where the magic happens. Where the person is IN the world he/she sees, where they feel, see, hear etc. (of course based on stimuli they had experienced at some time before in their history.) But they also add things to that, what it must feel like to lay in sand when they hadn't done so ever in their life, for instance. Whether some like to admit it or not, you go into a certain level of daydreaming to bring that story to life. If you just were able to write down a story from facts it would be a memoir.
If you think about it, it's like looking into one of those pictures that when you stare for a bit your eyes cross and the 3D image becomes apparent.
Here are some interesting articles I drew from:
And here: http://www.newyorker.com/tech/frontal-cortex/the-virtues-of-daydreaming
And here is what Sigmund Freud has to say about it: http://www.kleal.com/AP12%20member%20area%20pd2%202013/Freud%20and%20Frye.pdf
And the Tor article: