I’ve been stuck in one scene of my plot for the last few weeks. It’s frustrating – my plot from the first scene to the last spans 79 years, so there’s plenty to explore. I couldn’t understand why, suddenly, every time I daydreamed I found myself in the same scene.
I have a sci-fi paracosm that’s completely unrelated to my real life. Nothing in my daydreams can ever literally come true. And although my daydream self is an idealised version of me, for the most part I don’t base my characters on real people. Almost all my daydream characters, including the two in this particular scene, are my own creation. And in the scene I was stuck in, my daydream self isn’t present; I daydream it in third person.
It’s not an upsetting scene, so initially I didn’t worry too much about being stuck there. But eventually the lack of novelty got annoying, and I started to question what was going on. I couldn’t see how this particular scene was related to anything that was going on in real life. It’s a scene involving two people who don’t exist, in a world that isn’t this world, having an interaction that doesn’t obviously mirror anything in my real life.
But much of what happens in our daydreams originates in our subconscious. Any time you don’t consciously try to direct the plot, you’re opening space for your subconscious to bubble up. Sometimes your subconscious is trying to protect you; at other times, it has a message for you. And when you don’t understand the message, or you don’t hear the message, your subconscious keeps repeating it. Getting stuck in one scene can be a sign that your subconscious is trying to tell you something.
But your subconscious doesn’t communicate in words, or even pictures. The things that bubble up in our daydreams can’t be taken literally. Just because you’re constantly reliving one particular event in your daydream world doesn’t mean you’re secretly hoping that exact event will happen in real life. You have to look at the emotions underlying the daydream. Because your subconscious talks to you in energy, in feelings.
When I asked myself what the significant emotions are in the scene I was stuck in the answer came back immediately: hope. In that scene, one character realises the other has forgiven him for something he thought was unforgiveable, and that he might be able to repair the relationship he thought was irretrievably broken. It’s a moment when the whole future shifts, when there’s suddenly the promise of something brighter and more positive. It’s as if the Universe is screaming “It’s not too late”.
And that’s an emotion I feel in real life. “It’s not too late” has been my motivation for the last few years. I found out what maladaptive daydreaming was at 46. I reinvented myself in the most brutal and transformative way possible at 49. Now, at 51, I’m finally working towards something that has been a lifelong ambition of mine: I’m writing a book. I’ve always wanted to be a writer – someday. But for most of my life, “someday” never came. I got side-tracked by the demands of career and family. But not anymore. I’ve learned what’s important to me and I’m taking the time to pursue my dreams. And that brings me immense hope, along with profound gratitude that “it’s not too late”.
But over the last few weeks, we’ve been redecorating. My house is in chaos. Furniture is in the wrong rooms; there’s dust everywhere. I don’t do well with that kind of disruption. I’ve been feeling stressed and sorry for myself. My daydreams reminded me to take a step back and see the bigger picture. I’m still writing my book. I’m still pursuing my dream. And that hope and optimism is exactly what I need to get through the temporary chaos and upheaval of redecorating. But I’d stopped feeling it. I’d been overwhelmed by the temporary situation. My daydreams reconnected me with the emotion I needed to tap into.
And guess what? As soon as I realised what my subconscious was trying to tell me, and I remembered to tune into my gratitude about everything that’s going right in my life, the daydream shifted. The next time I daydreamed, I wasn’t stuck in that scene anymore. I jumped forward about three years in the plot, to an area where I still have some details to work out. The scene I’d been stuck in had done its job. I don’t need to visit it again for a while.
If your daydream world seems to be frustratingly stuck – if you’re trapped reliving one scene over and over again – take a moment to step back and ask yourself why. Don’t overthink it. Don’t take the scene too literally. Tune into your heart and your emotions and ask yourself, what is this scene giving you? Is it giving you an emotion you need to feel? Because when you listen to your subconscious, it won’t need to shout. It’ll let go of your daydream so that you can take the plot in the direction you want. And you should be happier, both inside and outside the daydream.