The word daydream invokes thoughts of pleasant abstraction, or perhaps a vision of wishes fulfilled. Daydreams, because they occur in conscious minds, are usually proof against the tumult and terror which the unconscious may visit upon one defenseless in sleep. The word dream is more ambiguous. Dreams are often nightmares. When sleep is seen as a little death, the thought of post mortal dreams is threatening. As Hamlet says, “…what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil must give us pause.”
The Germanic roots of the word dream include words for phantom or ghost, and the verb ‘to deceive.’ The first meaning given in Webster is, “Sensations, images, or thoughts passing through a sleeping mind.” These needn’t be benign.
The definitions which Webster gives for daydream are, “reverie”, or, “A pleasing or visionary notion or scheme.”
Either form of dream, sleeping or waking, may serve to inspire a creative mind, and both have done so. Nocturnal dreams tend to be unruly, though. They are often opaque, and after consideration may prove to be trivial or absurd. Daydreams may also be silly or pointless, but less often so than the dreams of sleep. If the person engaged in a creative activity holds loosely in mind the subject of his endeavor and allows his mind to play with it, he may find nonsense, or he may gain useful insight, but in either case the result is likely, at least, to relate to the subject in question. Even when a daydream has no ‘subject’ as such, the result, while it may be silly, is generally comprehensible. In fact, ‘silly’ results are often most interesting.
Nocturnal dreams resist such limitation. Their sources and significance are unknown and their meaning, if any, usually obscure. To any who read this post, I wish you pleasant dreams, both waking and sleeping, but I think daydreams are best.