Writing Exercises: "Writers and Dreaming"
It would not surprise me in the least if many of you have already heard in some fashion the importance of writing down and utilizing your dreaming to write. If this is news to you, sit back and take in what is in this post because we are going to comb through how dreaming can help your writing in the future. It probably does seem farfetched to think that you can still write when you sleep, I thought the same thing, until I applied the skill to my own sleep.
As a result of trying this for myself, I have trained myself to write entire scenes, chapters, plots, etc while I sleep. Thankfully introducing this skill to your own writing process is hardly difficult and easy to make a habit of. Let us begin with why writing in your dreams is a good idea before we discuss how best to introduce the practice into your writing.
The most impactful benefit of dream writing is the wisdom that you can draw from your dreams. Naturally, at the end of each of our days we curl up in bed and ponder the events of the day. What we ponder often involves situations we experienced that may or may not have gone as well as we contemplate they could have, or a conversation you had with that one person who loves philosophy so much they have to talk to you about it. Maybe we go to bed thinking about puzzles or mysteries we watched on television and our brains are wracking to think up the solution as we wait for next week's episode. Is any of this sounding familiar? It probably does because every person draws from the creative wisdom that comes from our dreaming. Learning to utilize this creative wisdom for your writing is a wonderful tool that can get you out of the trickiest plot-hole.
This all being said, I am aware that many times we can sleep and completely forget our dreams. For many years in my life I suffered the very reality where I would sleep, dream, but wake the next morning and have absolutely no recollection of what my dreams had been about. The good news is, you can also train yourself out of this problem too. The thing to remember is that everyone dreams, there is no way you do not. I will skip the science lecture here and let you look it up if the revelation is that baffling, but this really is a matter of you simply not remembering your dreams.
The first step to training yourself to remember your dreams is to sleep sober, alcohol can affect your ability to remember your dreams. If this does not work, the next step would be to literally tell yourself not to forget your dream, or put a written note under your pillow. Its a strange tip, but even stranger is the fact that it often works. If the previous did not work in helping you remember your dreams, you can try lying very still when you first wake up. Doing this will encourage your mind to wander, and with the wordless intent to return to your dream, it will often lead to positive results.
On the topic of waking up, when you do, hold off on making plans for the day. Think about your dreams first before you do. Another method of remembering your dreams is abiding the favorite rule of having your journal by your bedside. This is particularly why having a journal on your night stand is exceedingly important. As soon as you wake up and remember your dream, write it down!
Sometimes your dreams get stubborn and you will not remember them until later in the day. If that is the case it is no big deal, just be ready to pen them down and if you can not, sit for a moment and let yourself feel the dream all over again.
Now on the topic of completely forgetting a dream, despite going through the tips suggested above, there are still things you can do. The first is write down how the dream made you feel, even if you can not remember a single detail. You would be surprised how helpful writing down raw emotion can be for your writing. Can't remember the dream completely? That's ok! Write down the fragment you remember before you woke and turn it into a writing prompt.
As we explore how to implicate dream writing into your creative process, begin with simply documenting your dreaming. Whether that means writing incomplete scenes or simply raw emotion, just record everything. Next week we will plunge into the process of training yourself to dream write, the first step is simply documenting.