Sunday, July 23, 2006

Interesting Exercise

Here's an interesting exercise that can enrich both your life and your writing:

What are your daydreams? If you’re a writer, what are your characters’ daydreams?

Some people think of daydreams as wasted time but my view is that they are clear indicators of both who we want to be and what we want to have in our lives. Often, they are things we want to have in our lives but don’t believe are possible.

If you’re a writer, then daydreams your characters have can help cue readers into the character’s true internal goals and how that character wants to live his or her life. When the inner daydreams match the character’s outer world in some significant way, the reader will know that the character has found happiness. Unless, of course, when it happens the character realizes that it isn’t what he or she wants, after all. In other words, there are lots of ways to use your character’s daydreams to craft an emotionally satisfying and powerful story.

Does your character put his or her energy and focus into daydreams rather than taking action to make changes in his/her life or does he/she use the daydream as motivation to go after that goal? Is a character in your story bitter because he or she chose not to go after his/her goals and now only has daydreams instead? Does or did a character use daydreams to get through impossible situations that had to be endured and couldn’t have been otherwise?

See? Lots of story potential right there.

In my own life, I’ve lived out some of my daydreams, not gone after some of the others because I didn’t think they were possible. But the last couple of years have shown me that what seems impossible often isn’t—if we find the courage to try. Like living in California, in the Bay area, for a while. Like traveling across country and seeing things I always wanted to see. Like starting a coaching practice for writers. Like buying a house with a fireplace and bay windows. Some were as good as I thought they would be, others turned out to be something I needed to achieve and then, after a little while, let go of.

Funny how my daydreams have become starting points, now, for my life rather than something I did to escape from it.

Wishing all of you daydreams that enrich YOUR lives and if you’re a writer, the lives of your characters as well.