Sometimes I lie in bed and imagine myself being murdered.
I imagine the different ways it could happen. The various people who might do it. Usually in rather vivid detail. Maybe that sounds strange, but I actually do it quite a lot. And in some weird sense, I think that’s me working.
I don’t think writers see the world like normal sane people. Writers are always looking for stories. Even in real life. Especially in real life. The more real the better. Even as real life is happening around you, as you’re in the very act of living it, feeling it. Even then there’s something in the back of your mind that’s quietly just watching. Taking notes. Observing your life like an outside party, looking for inspiration.
Writers live fantasy lives. I know I’ve lived my share. I’ve been married, single, a rock star, a starting outside linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers. I’ve been able to stop time. I’ve relived the past and visited alternate futures.
I don’t remember my dreams much anymore, and even when I did and wrote them down in a dream diary, I don’t think I ever got much of anything useful from them. But daydreams are another matter.
Some people might tell you that nothing useful can come of daydreams. Of wondering around in a daze, wrapped up in your own head, letting your imagination run wild. That it’s a waste of time.
But without daydreaming, I wouldn’t have a job.
Writing isn’t just the act of typing. For me, most of the heavy lifting is done before I ever even sit down at the laptop, before I ever get to the point of actually putting words on paper. The real work is done in my head. Bouncing ideas around. Chasing down different narrative leads to see where they take me. Little by little building a framework for whatever sort of story I’m going to tell.
In other words, daydreaming.
Now of course, if you never get to the point of actually putting words on paper, then I suppose you’re just a dreamer and not that much of a writer.
But on the other hand, if you’re sitting down to write without first having done a lot of work in your own headspace, without having wondered around your house for a while in a daze or zoned out at work, imagining all manner of weirdness and mumbling bits of dialogue to yourself like a crazy person…
Then I’d say you’re just not working hard enough.