thoughts on md: unhealthy mindset, passive vs productive DD and the Bronte sisters

Hello, I have moderate level 'MD', as this behaviour has been named. My triggers are mainly music but also articles, books, video games, real life experiences, anything really. My "kinesthetic activity" is running, sometimes pacing

Firstly, It's only recently that I've been able to put a name to what I do, but I'm not quite sure that that's a good thing. Before I was beginning to think I was a little crazy, running around everywhere, 'talking' to myself, making faces and even crying whenever one of my characters cried, it's more than a little embarrassing. It's also affected me academically, although I think I've managed to get a grip on that now. But I never ever thought of it in terms of 'excessiveness' or it being a 'disorder' and an 'addiction', I think this is a negative way of looking at it. It's a simple case of needing certain controls so as not to disrupt everyday living, but that is all there is to it, at least to me, I don't have it as severe as others. On the other hand, I don't feel as crazy now that I know that others act in a similar way

Now, ever since I've learned of MD things have clicked about certain figures, mostly fictional characters, writers and filmmakers. I'd already had hints of the reason behind what I was doing, there is a BBC documentary series called 'Freak like me' on the strange habits of people in Britain, and there was a girl who like to run around in her room while 'thinking' (I thought huh! she's just like me), Also, the film 'Precious' has the main character showing typical MD traits, she daydreamed an idealised self in her head, and her triggers seemed to be music (the gospel music when looking through the window, and the music from the boombox on the street), I thought "oh, that's very accurate" but I never connected the dots.

Dorothea Brande, the writer, probably had MDD, and some of her students were definitely MDers. In her book 'becoming a writer', in a chapter called 'Rhythm, monotony, silence' she talks about "the quiescent period, since every writer alive occupies himself in some quiet idiosyncratic way in that interlude, it is seldom noticed that these occupations have a kind of common denominator. Horseback riding; knitting; shuffling and dealing cards; walking; whittling; you see they have a common denominator - of three figures, one might say. All these occupations are rhythmical, monotonous, and wordless. That is our key [as writers]." and goes on to say that "In other words, every Author, in some way in which he has come on by luck or long search, puts himself into a very light state of hypnosis", which to me is a perfect description of MD, wouldn't you say?

She also talks of a woman who "found that her stories fell into line best when she was at work on the kitchen floor, scrubbing", and that "she convinced herself completely that she would be unable to write again till she got back to the rhythmical monotony of the scrubbing brush". I'd recommend her book on writing to any writers, very useful practical advice tailored to the MD method of creativity

Another extract, which may be of interest to all of you from the chapter called 'wordless daydreams':

"Most persons who are attracted by the idea of fiction at all are, or were in childhood, great dreamers. At almost any moment they can catch themselves, at some level, deep in reverie. Occasionally this reverie takes the form of recasting one's life, day by day or moment by moment, into a form somewhat nearer to the heart's desire: reconstructing conversations and arguments so that we come out with colors flying and epigrams falling around us like sparks, or imagining ourselves back in a simpler and happier period. Or adventure is coming toward us around the next corner, and we have already made up our minds as to the form it will take. All those naive and satisfying dreams of which we are the unashamed heroes or heroines are the very stuff of fiction, almost the MATERIA PRIMA of fiction. A little sophistication, a little experience, we realize that we are not going to be allowed to carry off the honors in real life without a struggle; there are too many contenders for the role of leading lady or leading man. So, learning discretion and guile, we cast the matter a little differently; we objectify the ideal self that has caused us so much pleasure and write about him in the third person. And hundreds of our fellows, engaged secretly in just such daydreaming as our own, see themselves in our fictional characters and fall to reading when fatigue or disenchantment robs them of their ability to see themselves under any glamorous guise. The little Brontes, with their kingdom of Gonda-land, the infant Alcotts, young Robert Browning, and HG Wells all led an intensive dream-life which carried over into their maturity and took another form; and there are hundreds of authors who could tell the same stories of their youth. But there are probably thousands more who never grow up as writers. They are too self-conscious, too humble, or too solidly set in the habit of daydreaming idly. After all, we begin our storytelling, usually, long before we are able to print simple words with infinite labor. It is little wonder that the glib unconscious should balk at the drudgery of committing its stories to writing."


Chris Cunningham, the music video director seems to me a typical MDer. Not only has he stated in an interview that since he was a kid "he always listened to music and imagined stuff to go with it", his music videos are intrinsically connected to the music, the rhythm and sounds feature and inspire the visuals (and for this he is called a genius, but really he's just a Daydreamer...) Examples of this are his videos for 'Squarepusher - My selector', 'Aphex Twin - Windowlicker' and 'Aphex Twin - Come to Daddy'. Also, his advert for playstation where the girl is talking about 'Being who you want to be' makes it even more suggestive of MD

I certainly hate watching music videos because they disrupt my own visuals/daydreams, and I think it's all wrong, that's not how it goes.

The Bronte sisters (Authors of Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and other books) were almost definitely MDers. When they were children they would 'walk around the table, constructing their complex world of 'Gondal', walking seemed to be their kinesthetic movement. They certainly had reason for trying to escape their lives. Also, Jane Eyre, to me, seems like a typical MD fantasy, with an idealised version of the Author, as there are many parallels between the Author and main character, and of course it's full of tragedies and wish fulfilling fantasy.

There is also Charles Dickens and his 'Night walks'. He was an avid walker, getting up at 2 am to walk 20 miles daily, even in old age, despite it destroying his health, he still insisted on walking daily, sounds like an addiction to me. He also had, "'as several of his walking companions described it, he had a distinctive "swinging" gait". Some of his stories have a whiff of idealisation about them and dreamlike sequences, no? I suspect he could be an MDer

Now, personally, as an aspiring (student) artist, I use daydreams all the time productively for my work, and I think of these as productive daydreams. They differ from my 'passive' daydreams in that they do not involve an idealised self, they are quite dreamlike, complex and surreal, they usually match music 1:1 with parts of the music incorporated into the plot, they are original (limited exposure to works of fiction, sticking to non fiction and real life experiences) and they are not indulgent re imaginings of my past or future. I try to limit the passive daydreams, or I try a trick to turn them into productive ones. I call it the 'dream within a dream' trick. So for example, I listen to some music, off I go running, and it's a passive daydream about, say, a fantasy post apocalyptic world with an idealised self as the protagonist. So I tweak this into a semi-productive dream by doing two things, a)take the idealised self out and have what interests me creatively (the post apocalyptic world) within the new context and b) find a new way to satisfy my minds need for fulfilment and emotional satisfaction. So now the daydream becomes "showing Charlie Brooker, the video game critic and comedian, my post apocalyptic video game", and then I can focus on constructing the world without self indulgence and idealisation getting in the way.

A more simpler one I use when lazy is imagining a fantasy as a piece of art already rather than just a daydream with no context, and people's emotional reaction to it, which satisfies my mind's addiction to happy feelings and fulfilment and at the same time separates whatever I need to work on

Which are better, daydreams or nightdreams? I'd have to say, in my opinion it's night dreams, but I guess that's because evolutionarily speaking, night dreams have to do with survival planning (essentially training for the dangers encountered during the day, nightmares are survival plans that went out of hand) and daydreams are more idealisation based. I find that dreams are a tad bit more creative, or at least you don't have to push as much (and in my case run for as long a time) to get something interesting.

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Elly Vator, thank you for your post.  I found your thoughts very interesting as I am an aspiring writer.  I think often of writing my dds into stories but then shrink back thinking others will laugh at me or judge me without mercy.  As I read I found myself building a great deal of appreciation for you.  Here is a person who has not only identified, but managed and balanced his MDing to obtain success in his field of work.  Amazing.  I have only seen my MDing as a obtacle to my writing success; it fustrates me.  If I could put as much work into my writing as my dding, I would be a well known published writer.  Also I did not know that about Charles Dickens. Intesting and perhaps some reassuance that maybe i'm not a total freak afterall.  So I am curious how you find a new way to satisfy your minds needs for fullfillment and emotional satisfaction (third paragraph from bottem).? All my dds are centered around these needs.

Thanks for taking the time to read the post Paige. Contrary to your thoughts on MD, you are actually in the ideal position for the writing process (with a little tweaking to the way you process your DDs), in fact many writers, as I've stated, try to get themselves into an artificial state of what we do when we MD, and other writers like you are already inclined in that way. You're right, the main difference between an MDer and an artist is that the MDer has a completely unbalanced creative process, too much DDing, and too much emphasis on that side of creation, the other being technicality, logic and management. In fact some people have the opposite problem you have, they use the left side of their brain far too much, and the dreamlike creativeness is stifled in the process. MDing will only be an obstacle if you don't manage it, which I will write more extensively about (and tailor it to the writing process specifically). A substantial amount has already been written on the topic of incorporating MDing in the creative process, much to do with balance between the DD and actual use of them, the issue of focusing and actually getting anything done, 'two sides of the brain/person', usually under the guise of 'the artistic coma' or 'flow', and originality (a simple matter of sticking to primary sources) which I'll be happy to point you towards, I've personally found them very helpful.

When I have the time I'll write up all the ways I've personally found to satisfy those needs, but they can only be taken as generalizations as the needs of your mind will differ slightly from mine, you'll have to experiment a little. I hope they'll help you harness your MDing for use in the creative process rather than it being a hindrance

Very interesting read, you put a lot of thought and effort into writing the post for us. I'm interested in making DD more productive too. I'm what I dub a "technical DDer" who envisions software code, machine designs, etc and how it would interact with the world. I seldom have "adventures" that involve no sort of technical basis. Often I exhaust my ideas to the point of frustration because I can't create it in the real world. Sometimes I have ideas for a cool piece of software, but trying to start coding something that is already complete and working in my head is frustrating and depressing.

It's not all completely technical of course, it's usually a third person perspective of myself developing it and using it, showing friends, and how it may help me advance my own life. 

Interesting. I'm going to study computer engeneering and I hope I can also get my DD more productive.

Steve C said:

Very interesting read, you put a lot of thought and effort into writing the post for us. I'm interested in making DD more productive too. I'm what I dub a "technical DDer" who envisions software code, machine designs, etc and how it would interact with the world. I seldom have "adventures" that involve no sort of technical basis. Often I exhaust my ideas to the point of frustration because I can't create it in the real world. Sometimes I have ideas for a cool piece of software, but trying to start coding something that is already complete and working in my head is frustrating and depressing.

It's not all completely technical of course, it's usually a third person perspective of myself developing it and using it, showing friends, and how it may help me advance my own life. 

You forgot to mention Kant's daily walk, always at the same hour.

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