I read to my daughters often. Many of the books remain on my shelf and have found a place as inspiration for writing. I’ve often thought, whimsically, about finding a way to do what Shel Silverstein says he can do in this poem:
I’ll take the dream I had last night,
And put it in my freezer,
So someday long and far away,
When I’m an old grey greezer,
I’ll take it out and thaw it out,
This lovely dream I’ve frozen,
And boil it up and sit me down
And dip my old cold toes in.
When my girls heard this poem they asked if dreams could really be kept in a freezer. I gave them each some paper and crayons before bed and told them when they woke up to draw a picture of whatever they dreamt. I told them that would be a good way to keep their dreams.
“In the freezer?” (My three year old had a picture in there for a very long time)
The point is that writers might be able to use “dream time” in a productive way.
Ok, you swear you don’t dream. Scientists say if you actually sleep, as in have REM sleep, you dream. You may or may not remember what you dream, but your mind is busy at work creating some interesting stuff whether you know it or not.
So how does dreaming help you write if you can’t control it?
Ask your dreaming self for a little help. It can’t hurt to try and persuade your unconscious to ponder a character’s next move or how to fix a sticking point in a plot all while your conscious mind is unavailable.
Before going to sleep write down on a pad of paper whatever you want to dream about. Maybe you’re not sure what the antagonist looks like. What better place to meet someone or something scary then in a dream. Whatever you want to know, ask.
Don’t be shy. This is between you and, well, you.
Your goal is to wake up and write anything down that comes to mind. A phrase, an image, a snippet of dialog; no matter what comes up don’t question where it came from. You don’t have to remember an entire dream. Your mind already did the work. Take whatever you get.
Every night that pad of paper will urge you to “freeze” something from your dreams. Even if all you end up with is a word or two it’s more than you had before.
And if you wake up and have nothing at all? Fake it and write the first thing that comes into your head. The muse often appears unannounced and along with her can come surprises.
Sophie’s Choice by William Styron is a novel that arose out of a dream:
“I think there was a merging from the dream to a conscious vision and memory of this girl named Sophie,” explained Styron. “And it was powerful because I lay there in bed with the abrupt knowledge that I was going to deal with this work of fiction.”
Whatever you manage to write on your pad of paper each morning it will be glorious. It comes from a place of creativity that would otherwise have gone untapped.
All The Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas
Layin’ In The Sun,
Talkin’ ‘Bout The Things
They Woulda-Coulda-Shoulda Done…
But All Those Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas
All Ran Away And Hid
From One Little Did.
~ Shel Silverstein
Keep writing, dream a lot, and be the “One little Did.”
Christina for PenPaperWrite
If you want to learn more about the Four Part Dramatic Structure, The Outer and Inner Journey, Storyboarding and How to Write a Scene, sign up for the next 60 Scenes Writing Method 1-Day Workshop in Atlanta, GA January 20th
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