Maladaptive Daydreaming Journal: What to IncludeLast Updated:
As I’ve written about many times before – including in my little maladaptive daydreaming book and in the maladaptive daydreaming test – it’s absolutely critical, even though it’s difficult, to write down your daydreams in as much detail as possible.
It’s one of the (many) little ironies of maladaptive daydreaming that despite these daydreams taking up an abnormal amount of one’s time, it’s rare that one has ever actually written down one’s daydreams (usually because it’s slightly, or perhaps more than slightly, embarrassing to do so).
While I personally didn’t keep a journal to chronicle my journey to quitting maladaptive daydreaming, I’ve often been asked by people whether it would be helpful and how one should think about structuring their journal.
My response has always been that keeping a journal is a phenomenal idea, and there’s no reason to make it overly complicated. If you’re going to be keeping a journal, you don’t want to set up too many rules, or commit yourself to writing a certain amount each day, as you’ll increase the likelihood of not regularly keeping it.
In this article I’ll briefly go over the way that I’d structure a journal, which you can do in any old notebook you have laying around (there’s no need to go and buy a specialized journal – you could even just write your journal on pieces of paper and keep them all in the same spot).
However, one rule that I would highly recommend you have is that you keep your journal entirely to yourself. If you tell people about your journal, or offer to share it with them, you’ll likely be a bit less honest in what you write – or at least you’ll likely omit some details out of embarrassment.
The reality is that nearly every maladaptive daydreamer is a bit embarrassed about their maladaptive daydreams. Your primary goal through writing your journal should be to be honest with yourself about your daydreams. This sounds obvious but when you begin writing you’ll likely find yourself not truly wanting to commit to paper all the details of your daydreams.
Step 1: Keep a Daily Tally of Your Maladaptive Daydreams
Throughout the day you should keep a tally of how many times you’re maladaptive daydreaming. This should include when you did it, what the daydream was, and how long it lasted.
There’s no need to write too much here. Instead you should treat this almost like a time sheet. So, for example, your daily tally may look like this:
- 9AM: Maladaptive daydreaming about x. Roughly 30 minutes.
- 10AM: Maladaptive daydreaming about y. Roughly 10 minutes.
- 12PM: Maladaptive daydreaming about x. Roughly 10 minutes.
- 2PM: Maladaptive daydreaming about x. Roughly 25 minutes.
- 5PM: Maladaptive daydreaming about x. Roughly 35 minutes.
- 7PM: Maladaptive daydreaming about y. Roughly 5 minutes.
- 9PM: Maladaptive daydreaming about x. Roughly 40 minutes.
As you can see, each line just takes a few seconds to write. You don’t need to elaborate about what each daydream involved each time you note it down. Instead, you want to just keep a tally so you can visualize how often you’re slipping into a maladaptive daydream, which maladaptive daydream script you played in your head, and roughly how long it lasted.
Note: It’s often hard to know how long you were actually engaged in a maladaptive daydream, so just try to give a ballpark estimate.
What I’ve found is that when many people begin keeping a journal, they’re amazed at how much they’re actually maladaptive daydreaming throughout the day and how many times they slip into it.
Needless to say, every maladaptive daydreamer knows they’re engaged in it often and that it hogs up a significant amount of time. But being able to visualize, on paper, just how many times it occurs does tend to have quite an impact.
But, as I’ve always stressed, it’s very important as you’re trying to quit to not be too hard on yourself. Instead, you should congratulate yourself on being diligent in your record keeping and, as time progresses and you engage in maladaptive daydreaming less, it’ll be very rewarding to see this tally shrink down and down.
Step 2: Write Down Your Maladaptive Daydreams in Detail Every Night
By the end of the night, before you go to bed, you’ll have a tally of the maladaptive daydreaming that you engaged in throughout the day. You should take around ten-to-twenty minutes to review your notes and to write down a description going over every daydream that you engaged in.
So, in my example above, there were three distinct daydreams. So you should try writing as much as possible on each. In this step you don’t need to analyze your daydreams, rather you should try to just write an accurate and full description of what they involved. Treat this like free form writing: just write whatever comes into your head about your daydreams.
Note: It’s most often the case that maladaptive daydreamers have one or two primary daydreams that they engage in. So this step can become a bit repetitive night after night. But that’s the point: you want to break the allure of your daydreams, and one of the ways to do that is by making them seem boring. So writing (roughly) the same thing over and over again every night, if applicable, is a great way to break this allure.
Step 3: Write Down Why You Think These Daydreams Were Alluring
After writing down a thorough description of the daydreams you were engaged in, you should then spend five-to-ten minutes writing down why you think each of those daydreams are appealing for you to engage in.
There’s no right or wrong answers here and your rationales can fluctuate day-to-day. However, you want to try to come up with some reasons why the kinds of daydreams you’re engaging in are occurring.
In this step you just want to come up with a plausible explanation. If you can’t, then that’s fine. The benefit of a maladaptive daydreaming journal if you can revisit this “why” question every night and eventually you’ll likely have a moment of clarity that suddenly makes you realize why a certain daydream has been recurring so often.
Many overthink what should and should not be included in a maladaptive daydreaming journal. The reality is that you want a simple system that you can keep to – there’s no point in keeping a journal if you only get around to actually writing once a week or so.
Instead, as a little experiment, just try to follow the little steps above for a week. You’ll likely find that you make remarkable progress because for many maladaptive daydreamers just writing about what’s going through their mind makes all the difference in the world.
And, like I wrote above, it can be very rewarding to see your tally of the number of times you’re maladaptive daydreaming fall over time as you make progress toward quitting. So, give this a try, and make sure not to be too hard on yourself if aren’t completely diligent in keeping your tally (it can be tough to remember to write down everything).
As always, I’m wishing you the best of luck in your journey.