Daydream Believer

Let’s Talk About Daydreams

By Jeff Salter

First things first — Happy Independence Day to all of us living in America.

Secondly: I’d be willing to swear on a stack of Mad Magazines that this is NOT my suggested topic. And I’ll tell you two reasons why I say this: (A) I went back to the period right before this topic initially appeared (as a “leftover” in the April May June 2018 Schedule) and I could not find a March 2018 email from me recommending this topic, and (B) if I HAD suggested this topic, I would have asked, “Have you used specifics of any DREAMS in your stories?” Not Day-Dreams.

Whatever. I’m a good soldier and I’ll run with whatever topic is slated for the week. Problem is, I’m not exactly sure how to define “daydreams” — versus the way my brain just functions nearly all the time (now that I’m retired). For example: I’ll come across an interesting word or name and think, “Hey, that would be a great name for a character.” Or… I’ll see a guy running wildly in traffic while looking frantically over his shoulder – as I did a few days ago – and think, “Wow, sure wish I knew what he was running from.”

Now are those examples of daydreaming? Or just instances of a brain which processes a LOT of the external stimuli through this filter: “I wonder how / if that could be used in a story?” Or, more precisely, when I’m deeply involved in revisions of a manuscript, my brain will hardly let go of that story and its development… so, at any time day or night, I’ll be thinking things like, “don’t forget to mention the flashlight in Chapter Two (since they use it later in Chapter Five)”.

I asked my wife for her definition of daydreaming and she said, “letting your mind wander… remembering things… seeing or hearing something and thinking I wonder or I wish.”


My Analysis

It strikes me that a person’s attention and/or thought might be divided into these categories:


This type of attention or thought could include: research, study, test-taking, playing competitive card games, participating in athletic endeavors, practicing music, creating crafts or art, writing an essay, solving a math problem, conducting a science experiment, etc. In other words, there’s a plan, a goal… and specific, necessary steps to reach a desired result. Therefore, your mind can’t be wandering all over creation. Focused.


To me, an un-focused mind is not necessarily daydreaming, as “daydreaming” often has a stigma that the person is “goofing off.” I would assert that allowing your brain to drift and explore things which don’t require your immediate focus – see my list above – can be a very positive and creative way of “refreshing your screen” (to use an internet browser context).

Thinking “Outside the Box”

I seldom use this cliché term, because I think it’s too restrictive — perhaps a better image would be casting a net without any certainty of what (if anything) you might collect. But lacking a better way to invoke the imagery, let’s just say that thinking outside the box might be considered as a hybrid (of sorts) between the focused mind and the un-focused. If one is rigidly focused on some project or problem, too often they can miss some of the possibilities that we might locate “outside” that box (or captured in that wide net). That’s not being unfocused… it’s more like shifting your lens – focus and framing – from telephoto to wide angle and then back to something (perhaps) mid-range. But neither should this hybrid – thinking outside the box or casting the net – be considered as “un-focused”… because, surely, analysis (of whatever sort) must necessarily be focused on the issue at hand.

Are daydreams involved solely in the realm of un-focused thought / attention? Or could daydreams also be – as I posit –very much a PART of thinking outside the proverbial box?

In My Stories

I’ve previously mentioned that the idea for my novel “Stuck on Cloud Eight” arose out of a very simple image that crossed my mind while I was strapped onto a compression table at a chiropractor’s office for some 15 minutes. Not able to do anything else and hoping not to fall asleep (and start snoring), I was just gazing out the window at a nearby tree and thought to myself, “the heroine works in a chiropractic clinic and lives in a treehouse!” Of course, it took a lot of time and effort to turn that 12-word concept into a 79,000 word novel, but I did it. Was I “daydreaming”? Was I thinking “outside the box”? I definitely was NOT focused on being strapped down on that table. I had freed my mind to entertain itself… and it looked for a way to connect external images with a possible story.


Do you daydream? How do you define that process or state of being?

[JLS # 443]


About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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20 Responses to Daydream Believer

  1. Kim Marcum says:

    I do daydream. I have different “levels” of daydreaming. Some of the story beginnings I post are daydreams of true experiences that I can’t seem to let go of.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      and that is part of the writer’s experience — to “record” the material which has been transmitted to / from / in the noggin somewhere.


  2. Yes, I will address my ‘daydreaming’ as opposed to ‘writing in my head’ tomorrow.
    Otherwise, most of what you have I think we can label as THINKING…and I guess not everyone does it. How do they live???

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      I’ve encountered people who are not terribly introspective… and I sometimes wonder how they manage to stumble through life. Oh well, to each his/her own.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, we are all different. I have almost been in awe of those who were not analytical or contemplative. They seem to go blithely through life, but I would not trade places with them!
        Now that I think. I do believe that you proposed ACTUAL dreams making their way into writings. Maybe next time around, you can add that one.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. jbrayweber says:

    I think daydreaming is comprised of all of what you said int he blog. But for me, daydreaming is when I am in a restive state (not strapped to a table, mind you) and either reminiscing or drifting around on the “wouldn’t it be awesome” wants and wishes outside of something that I can attain immediately. Like I might reminisce on some summer fun as a kid I had while riding my horse or dream of one day digging my toes in the white pristine sand of a Caribbean island just outside my newly acquired bungalow.

    Great topic!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. jbrayweber says:

    Oh! And Happy 4th! Thank you for your service to this country, Jeff!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Patricia Kiyono says:

    Happy Fourth, Jeff! Nice analysis of the topic. Sorry if I mistakenly credited you – but you have to admit, your social media posts certainly include much pondering that follows paths only you could find! As I mentioned earlier, I always considered daydreaming to be exactly what jbrayweber so eloquently described. And I have those thoughts a lot less frequently now that I’ve actually experienced six and a half decades of life. But I do occasionally have the “what if” thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      No problem about the topic assignment. I was just being silly about it.
      But it is true that I’d much rather talk about DREAMS. Oh… maybe we’ve already covered that topic before. I can’t recall. It’s been a long 8.5 years at 4F1H !!!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Happy Independence Day, Jeff.

    I’ll go with the online dictionary definition, also share by the Cambridge dictionary
    A series of pleasant thoughts that distract one’s attention from the present.
    synonyms: reverie, trance, fantasy, vision, fancy, hallucination, musing, brown study, imagining; inattention, inattentiveness, woolgathering, preoccupation, brooding, obliviousness, engrossment, absorption, self-absorption, absentmindedness, absence of mind, staring into space, abstraction, lack of concentration, lack of application; dwam; humorousblonde moment (love this synonym LOL)
    “she was lost in a daydream”

    I was always called a daydreamer in my school days. Hence, I am a writer. I write from more daydreams than I do from dreams I’ve had in the night hours.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ron Barthet says:

    I enjoy day dreaming, it helps me get through tasks such as cutting grass.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Elaine Cantrell says:

    I generally don’t remember my dreams so it would be hard to use them in my writing. I do enjoy a good daydream.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      oh, I remember lots of my dreams. In fact, I’ve typed up accounts of at least 400 of them. Make fascinating reading.


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