I do a lot of daydreaming. At work, in the car, while eating lunch, doing the washing up, and particularly while painting miniatures. In fact psychologists have estimated that on average we humans spend as much as one third of our waking lives daydreaming. Despite this daydreaming has got a bad rap over the years and is usually considered the product of a weak and idle mind. Maybe this is because in our productivity obsessed society we fail to see the benefits of ‘doing nothing’. And this attitude seems to miss the point that benefits do exist and daydreaming is far from a waste of time.
Recent research suggests that daydreaming can boost productivity and provide a number of other beneficial effects from aiding relaxation to preparing us to deal with conflicts. Organised daydreaming (known as ‘Visualisation’) helps us work through complex problems or difficult situations without the negative consequences of failure. It’s this risk free element that is important for us gamers and painters because it liberates our potential to be creative. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it). Daydreams allow us to drift through half formed and unrelated ideas and concepts making connections that would not otherwise be evident. It is the essence of the abstract and imaginative process that is the cornerstone of and artist’s creativity.
Brain scans of test subjects have found that daydreaming is actually the ‘natural state’ of our minds (sort of like the default setting) which is punctuated by prolonged periods of concentration and organised thought. So the next time you find yourself drifting off into your own inner world populated by Dragons, Goblins, Space Marines, Vikings or 18th century Prussians, don’t feel guilty. Don’t fight millions of years of evolution. You’re practising something that our brains are hardwired to be good at and will ultimately benefit your life and your hobby.