Why our imagination is the trippiest tool we have access to
It can break creative blocks, cultivate hope and activate our senses
DD HQ here. Have you ever felt creatively stuck?
Usually, for us, it happens like this: You have a ton of ideas muddled up in your brain, waiting to be released - but then, the moment you sit down to create, they all…disappear. Your creative brain feels like a barren wasteland 😮💨.
Creative ‘blocks’ can take many different shapes. Maybe yours come in the form of procrastination. Or maybe when you’re feeling stuck, you avoid using your creative brain as much as possible (only to feel guilty about it later for hours on end 😅).
In the moments when we’re roaming around in the vast, lonely, creative desert, we often find ourselves grasping for the right answer. And, this leads us to miss a crucial step of creating - and one that is hard to value in our achievement-driven world: our imagination.
But, our ability to dream about the future is so much bigger than putting an idea onto a page. It’s literally the essence of resilience, optimism and hope.
Before we dive into the way imagination works in our brain, and why using it it might be the key to unlocking our creative blocks once and for all - nerd out with us in a deeper way by joining the DD Universe. Get a free call with our co-founders for access (it’s available for a limited time to our Head in the Clouds subscribers 🙃):
Okay, let’s be real: our brains are not prediction machines.
While computers have the capacity to predict the future, we humans have something better - we’re built to imagine new futures that have never existed before and turn them into reality.
Feeling creatively stuck happens when we try to do what our brain isn’t built for: predict the perfect, pre-existing answer before we even start creating ourselves. We see someone else’s beautiful painting, or a celebrated piece of writing, or even a viral Tiktok trend and want to make an exact replica.
So, we set out to go from point A to Z in the most direct, efficient, perfect manner (cue the expectations, both inside and outside of our mind).
This kicks off something researchers call Convergent Thinking, or the type of cognitive process where we can derive only one correct outcome. It turns into a mental loop that can leave us feeling stuck, scared and even shameful if we don’t get it right.
But, this is bigger than an individual issue with perfectionism though (we’ve covered that topic and its relationship to creativity in the past). It’s societal.
For a long time, our culture has trained our brains to ‘search’ for and reward the right answers. Whether it was taking tests in school, or getting a promotion at work, we’ve had to operate in a world that functions in a black-and-white manner.
So, it makes sense that we’d extend that type of thinking to our creativity, too. But, that’s not how our imagination is structured 😅. Our imagination is messy. It’s chaotic. It’s experimental (at best). And, it’s the launching point for true, deep, transformative creativity.
So, let’s run an experiment for a moment: Imagine that you’re on the beach. Allow your imagination to transport you there for a moment. You might hear waves. See a sunset. Smell the ocean.
This place doesn’t actually exist in reality, but your imagination used all of your perceptual senses to construct this mental image that felt real. It combined all of your past memories, ideas, words and images that reminded you of a beach, and mashed them together to build something completely new.
Activating our messy, chaotic ‘mental workspace’ is a crucial step that gets passed over when we’re trying to achieve the perfect creation. It might seem like a frivolous one, but making room for purposeful imagination is like a warm-up for your creative brain to express itself.
Even more, Dr. Marty Seligman says that imagination is at the basis of optimism, hope and resilience: “Imagining the future — we call this skill prospection — is subserved by a set of brain circuits that juxtapose time and space and get you imagining things well and beyond the here and now. The essence of resilience about the future is: How good a prospector are you?”
So, next time you feel creatively stuck, give yourself time to get mentally messy, first. It’ll not only help you get going - but keep going, again and again.
The cool part is that we can never get it wrong. And, at Daydreamers, we see creativity as our way of making up our own questions - and answers - to help the world become a more beautiful, connected and alive one.
With us? 🛸
Katina + Dupi
and the entire team @ DD HQ
Enjoy nerding out about this type of content? Learn more about the science of creativity in the Daydreamers ecosystem. Head in the Clouds subscribers, for a limited time, get direct access to signing up for a free chat with our co-founders to see if you’re a fit for DD Early Access. Sign up while it lasts 🧠
An idea to noodle on 💭
Imagination is the breeding ground for creative ideas.
THINK ON THIS: Imagine a piece of cake. Did you salivate? How trippy is this - the same area of our brain responsible for perception (i.e. our senses), is also responsible for our imagination. That’s why we can smell, hear, feel and even taste just by letting our imagination transport us somewhere. Our imagination is powerful beyond…imagination. It can transform any reality.
…MAYBE NOT THAT: Having a creative block doesn’t just feel disappointing in the moment; it gives us a window of insight into our psychological approach to many areas of our lives. Usually, creative blocks stem from black-and-white thinking - which can be expanded by practicing mental flexibility and openness to new experiences. So, creative blocks can be solved through…creativity?!
Inside our brains at DD HQ 🧠
Go for your dreams (srsly - we were not crying, you are 😭). We’re really into this idea of cultivating ‘time affluence’. On that note, this is the case for just hanging out. Have you ever ignored your friends in the same room (hint: it’s called parallel play - and you might see a name you know in here 👀)? Did you know, there’s a gap btwn your age and how old you feel.
Ideas from the DD Crew 🛸
If this sounds relatable, you’re in the right place:
“…it's so counter-productive and I know it, but I want to be so efficient and productive that I don't do the act of creating itself until I have figured it out all in my head. And that rarely occurs b/c I need to get it out in the real world and iterate. The fear of not being the most useful, most impactful becomes the inhabiting factor to get my ideas onto the page…”
Within our private Daydreamers community, we get real about the stuff that holds us back from creating more often - and figure out ways to feel supported, together.
Sound like something you need more of in your life? Grab Early Access + see if it’s a fit while there’s still room!