Use Your Dreams in Your Writing
It is difficult, for some writers to use their dreams to write, but it can be a powerful tool and inspiration for writing. Some research says that dreams can be instrumental in problem solving. An article in Psychmachanics saying that Jack Nicklaus came up with his golf swing in his dreams. They cite several other famous examples of where dreams were used to solve problems.
Many writers when they are suffering from writers block or just right out stuck on a problem in their story, don’t know they can turn to their dreams for inspiration. We are speaking here of course of the literal dream (that you do at night) not the dream you have of becoming a famous writer.
I have used dreams for inspiration, and I was shocked how much it affected my writing. There are 2 problems that seem to stop writers from using dreams. The first is they do not recall their dreams, and the second they forget their dreams after a period of time. These 2 problems can be solved. People who say they don’t dream simply do not remember their dreams. Everyone dreams, every night. It’s scientifically proven.
Problem 1: Finding dreams
I can’t recall my dreams! Or I don’t dream. This is frustrating when you are trying to use your dreams to solve a problem. If you wake up you do not recall your dream, meaning it does not feel like you even had a dream, then you need to do some dream set up. Get more sleep if you can. The more rested you are, the better you can recall your dreams. You dream in 90 minute cycles. These cycles begin when you go to sleep. In order to recall a dream (many times) you must wake up at the end or during a dream cycle. The best way to do this is to set an alarm clock. You want to set the alarm at the end of one of these dreams. The dream stages on Webmd are a good starting point. The first dream of the night will be the shortest (about 10 minutes) and as you sleep the dreams will get longer. The best thing to do is catch yourself after you have been to sleep for a long period of time. So if you go to sleep at 10:30 wait 3 90 minute cycles or about 3:00 in the morning.
When you wake up don’t move! Don’t do anything else. Just hit the alarm and try to be still and concentrate on remembering the dream.
Problem 2: Holding on to the dream
After you are awake and still and you recall the dream write it down. People forget their dreams because of different chemicals or lack of chemicals in certain parts of the brain during sleep. Keep a pad and paper by your bed and take some quick notes about what you dreamed. Just write down reminders. Only be as detailed as you need to be to remember the dream later after you wake up for the day. You want to capture the feeling of the dream, if you can. This feeling and the oddities of it are usually the things that help you solve the problem. I heard one time (and I can’t remember where) that dreams are the answer to questions you haven’t asked yet. I think this is true.
In my dreams I find new ways of looking at old problems. I find the solutions and inspirations for problems in my writing that I didn’t even know were going to come up.
What to do with the dream
Take the feeling of the dream and write it. Use the feeling, use the setting, use the complications of the dream to point you in the right direction. Sometimes, like Stephen King and his Four Past Midnight, you can’t help but pull yourself out of bed to write down an idea that comes to you. These, I think, are some of the best ideas. Using your dreams or finding that inspiration is fulfilling in someway, and an idea that haunts you so much you pull yourself our of bed to write it, is usually one that you fall in love with. I wrote the following poem when it pulled me out of bed. It’s about being pulled out of bed by a dream/idea:
When Haunted by Poems
Your eyes jolt open. “It’s so late,”
she whispers. Rubbing one eye
you can see that she is mangled. Half there
her car-wrecked apparition
floats beside your bed in a sliver of moonlight.
“Is now the time?” she asks,
and you do not know if you
can help her, put her back on the road
or in the real world. You only
want to sleep, stay warm, but she
is mouthing something to you and pointing
toward the next room. She’s trying to draw you
into the light where something might happen
to both of you, resurrect her
and send you back to bed
sleeping lightly listening to the darkness.
Well, not really danger, but as a subheading I couldn’t resist. Don’t completely disrupt your life for this. I have a friend who started using dreams to write, after a few weeks he looked like a zombie. When I asked him, he was waking up 4 and 5 times a night trying to catch every dream. It turned out to be counterproductive. He was catching some of his dreams and then falling asleep on his keyboard. Try this once or twice a week! If it doesn’t work, adjust the time for the next night. We a little luck you will be able to use your dreams in your writing.