In his essay “Creative Writer and Day-Dreaming,” Sigmund Freud compares a creative writer (or a poet in German version) to a child. According to Freud, “The creative writer does the same as the child at play. He creates a world of fantasy which he takes very seriously … while separating it sharply from reality.” Freud is known for explaining behavior of adults by the events, which happened in their childhood, not surprisingly, he goes on to say that kid’s imaginary games are the source of writer’s imagination. This quote made me wondering what it really takes to become a creative writer and, since almost every child uses her imagination to play, why not every adult can be a creative writer.
Freud, the creator of psychoanalysis, draws several parallels between a creative writer and a child at play. Kids create their fantasy world and believe in it in a way so that the boarders between play and reality become at times blur. Creative writers, on the contrary, can tell the difference between their fantasies and reality. The line between children and adults is very sharp – as we grow, we might still poses the ability to fantasize, but we no longer merge reality and fantasies, moreover, many adults become ashamed of their daydreaming. As we grow older, we are expected to stop believing in the imaginary world we create in our heads – otherwise we are at risk to be considered mentally ill. In his comparison, Freud places a creative writer somewhere between a child and a neurotic.
As Freud himself acknowledges, the origin of the creative ability remains mysterious. However, his essay suggests that a creative writer is a person who is able not to constrain her imagination and is not ashamed of the daydreams. Just like a child, creative writer lets her imagination take her to a new imaginary world and is not afraid to be seen childish. Even thought Freud himself did not arrive to a conclusion about origins of creative writing, it is possible that other scientists will be able to find a link between the games a person plays in childhood and her literary abilities.