The Secret Life of the Daily Creative Writer

the-secret-life-of-walter-mitty-danny-kaye-virginia-mayo-1947_i-G-56-5619-L1FMG00Z

Daydreams to dash the doldrums.
By Elizabeth Cutright

“We must enter a daydream – willing suspend conscious thought of reality with our eyes open – before we can experience the joy of reverie.” Sarah Ban Breathnach

Oh those moments when you feel wrung out, strung out and left out.  The holidays are upon us, and I don’t know about you, but all the egg-nogging and white-elephant-gifting has just about drained me completely.  The lights in the mall are dazzling, the jazz quartet set up outside the movie theater is lovely, and the grand old tree that graces main street majestically watches over us all.
But if I have to hear about the fricking “elf on a shelf” one more time, or get yet another update about this weekend’s holiday party, I may sprout green hair all over my body and become a permanent member of the Tribe-of Grinch.

If you feel like you might be speeding headlong into the same sentiment, then heed my warning – tap the breaks now, find a way to slow down.
And get thee to the page.

This week I’ve been guiltily pondering all the methods and methodologies I’ve espoused here at the Daily Creative Writer…all those tips and tools and tricks and treats I’ve promoted and blogged about and encouraged you to try.  Artists Dates and Morning Pages and on and on and on…

But with shortened days (is it really legal for the sun to start setting at 4pm!) and expanded responsibilities, I’ve ignored my writer’s rules and regulations.  I’ve skipped the page and stood up my muse, and I’m feeling all the more beleaguered and bedraggled as a result.

Which got me thinking about the art of faking it.  Have you ever been told to act like you know something, act like you belong, act like you can handle it because putting on the front can sometimes get you halfway there?  Have you ever been advised to smile, though your heart is breaking, because eventually your insides will catch up with your outsides?

All of the above borders on cliché to be sure, but that doesn’t mean the advice isn’t valid or effective.

So when you can’t write another word, can’t muster the energy to go on an Artist’s Date, can even contemplate scratching out a journal entry, a poem or a stick figure for your two-year-old’s Christmas card, then may I suggest faking it?

Or better yet, launch your subconscious into the sea of daydreams.

“Daydreams are the fertile soil in which our imaginations flourish and reach for light,” writes Sarah Ban Breathnach in Simple Abundance.

By daydreaming you can let your rational, conscious, left-brain off the hook and instead use visualizations, fantasies and reveries to conjure up ideas, inspirations and instigations.

“Just imagine what you might have accomplished if only you’d been encouraged to honor your creative reveries as spiritual gifts,” wonders Ban Breathnach.  After all, as she says, “Daydreams incubate creativity and make possible reveries, visualization, and maybe even visions.”

I grew up watching KTLA’s “Family Film Festival” (I’ll save the heartbreak of my local cable provider recently ditching KTLA – which I’ve watched from different states and different countries through three decades – for another entry).  Every Sunday, LA’s Channel Five would run a block of old films and vintage cartoons.  They had your Laurel and Hardy, your Little Rascals, your Popeye and a basketful of black and white animation from the 1930s.

After an appetizer of lighter fare, they’d launch into the early afternoon’s feature presentation: Sinbad and the Voyage of the Seven Seas perhaps, or Douglas Fairbanks swashbuckling on pirate ships or prancing through ancient forests as the spritely Robin Hood.  There might be a “road picture” with Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, or maybe a musical, Westside Story or Guys and Dolls.

There were only a handful of films, played on a random rotation, and so most became familiar favorites.

Including The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Based on a short story by James Thurber, the films stars Danny Kaye at his most wily and acrobatic.  Walter Mitty is a mild mannered man surrounded by loud mouths – a bossy wife, and overbearing boss, obnoxious in-laws – who escapes the drudgery of his daily existence by falling into deep daydreams about life as a RAF fighter pilot or international spy. Eventually his dream-life and his real-life collide, when a mysterious woman – looking eerily like the dream girl from his fantasies – asks him for help with a real life heist.

It’s a wacky, off the wall comedy filmed in color a few years after the end of the Second World War, and it manages to capture the optimism and anticlimactic feeling of those years.

But oh the daydreams!  Walter Mitty’s daydreams are wonderful and wondrous, and I grew up aspiring to that kind of creative immersion.  I’ve been a regular daydreamer all my life actually, and when I periodically abandon those subconscious soirées  in favor of “the real world,” I know I’m going to end up hitting a writer’s block…or coming down with the flu.

As far as I’m concerned, daydreams are as essential to your mental health as brushing is to your gum health.  If you’re not much of a daydream, it’s not too late.  There’s not much of trick to it beyond the willingness to try.  In order to experience a really immersive experience, try to focus on the details when you’re setting scene.  Once you’re on your way, don’t be surprised if you’re suddenly hit with a creative idea or unique solution to a nagging problem.

“Poets, artiest, writers, musicians and scientists know that the Muse visits in reverie,” explains Ban Breathnach, “even if the subject of the reverie has absolutely nothing to do with the creative project at hand.”

“The subconscious mind is the soul’s servant; to willing sets in motion whatever behavior and circumstances are necessary to manifest physically the desired program.  The pulse of the subconscious is belief.  If you truly believe it, you’ll eventually see it in your life.”

So take two daydreams and call me in the morning.

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6 thoughts on “The Secret Life of the Daily Creative Writer

  1. The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty follows Stiller as Mitty, a shy magazine photo editor who lives his life vicariously through a series of elaborate daydreams as he sets out to find a missing photo negative and embarks on the first real life adventure he’s ever experienced. Walter Mitty will find Ben Stiller not only starring but also directing a cast that so far includes Saturday Night Live and Bridesmaids star Kristen Wiig, Oscar winner Shirley MacLaine and fantastic comedic actors Adam Scott and Patton Oswalt. This shaping up to truly be one of the most anticipated film s of the next year and an dream chance for any up and coming performer. If you are interested in casting calls and auditions for The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty leave a comment below and be sure to check back on every update as they become available.

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