Daydream believing

It’s not enough to daydream—you evidently have to catch yourself in the process for the creativity to stick. Imagination is all about proposing things that don’t exist. But even our flights of fancy nonetheless must take place within our cultural frameworks of the possible, the impossbile, the not-quite-possible-yet.

However, not all daydreams seem to inspire creativity. In his experiments, Schooler distinguishes between two types of daydreaming. The first type consists of people who notice they are daydreaming only when asked by the researcher. Even though they are told to press a button as soon as they realize their mind has started to wander, these people fail to press the button. The second type, in contrast, occurs when subjects catch themselves daydreaming during the experiment, without needing to be questioned. Schooler and colleagues found that individuals who are unaware of their own daydreaming while it’s happening don’t seem to exhibit increased creativity.

“The point is that it’s not enough to just daydream,” Schooler says. “Letting your mind drift off is the easy part. The hard part is maintaining enough awareness so that even when you start to daydream you can interrupt yourself and notice a creative insight.”

from “Important work can be done while daydreaming,” by Jonah Lehrer, The Boston Globe, 31 August 2008 :: via Arts & Letters Daily

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