Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Power of Dreams

Tip of the Day: My tip is really a gentle reminder to clean out your bookshelves. Pull out the books you and your kids are never going to reread (be honest) and donate them. My local library accepts donations year round for their fundraising booksales. Ta-da! I made room for new books!

Writing creatively is about output, but there's no output without input. So we read, we observe, we listen, we learn, and we hope that somehow everything we digest gets processed into our subconscious, to lurk in the back of our brains as we write.

I don't know what's going on in my subconscious. But recently, I decided to try to remember my dreams. Normally, I don't make a habit of remembering my dreams because they're pretty repetitive. I'm taking a test I've never been to class for; I'm driving a car from the backseat. These dreams aren't hard to interpret. I'm anxious about something. Of course, with kids, a full time job, critiquing deadlines, family obligations, and that whole "not being born a billionaire" thing, anxious isn't really new information. So dream interpretation never tells me anything I don't already know. But lately I got on this kick of spending my morning teeth brushing time purposefully reflecting on my dreams and trying to recall as much as I can.

On Sunday morning, the strangest thing happened to me. I dreamed the first scene of the next book I want to write. And it's good! It involves the main character, it describes him and his situation, it has action, and he meets one of the other major characters in the perfect way. I woke up amazed, thinking "That's it!!"

I fended off the hungry cats to look for a pen and notebook. I normally keep a pen and notebook in my bedroom, but I brought it downstairs on Friday to type something out of it. Once I got downstairs, I found my kids were awake and had made themselves breakfast: pancakes, syrup, and whipped cream. I think you can guess the proportions involved. I'm not sure there were actually pancakes. I think they just passed the box of frozen pancakes over the plates of sugar and called it good. Unfortunately, this encounter wiped the really funny joke part of my opening scene out of my memory. I think I got the rest of it down on paper though.

I'm very surprised by this tum of events. I haven't written a word of this book yet, and I have too many other projects going to want to start it. I was putting it off for NaNoWriMo in November.

I keep thinking of interviews I've read where writers say the idea for their books just came to them or came to them in a dream. It makes sense, I guess. All that stuff we put into our minds has to come out somewhere.

What stories and story ideas came to you in a dream? And when you acted on the dream, how did it work out?

-- Kate, Miss Apprentice Writer


Emily Marshall said...

I get alot of story ideas from dreams, but then 30 minutes later I forget them (evidently they weren't "that" good). I need to try to start writing them down first thing when I get up.

Lisa Schroeder said...

I wish I had more book worthy dreams! I HEART YOU came from a dream, and that's the only time that's happened to me.

DeenaML said...

Ha ha on not being born a billionaire!

Oh wait.

Me neither. Sigh.

Sometimes on weekend afternoons when I've been writing then find myself dozing [we call our couch the Sleeper Couch due to its ability to put one out], I'll have these sort of lucid dreams about the book, and in the dream I'm thinking, "That's a great idea!" but when I wake, it all just disappears! I don't remember it at ALL!

amuse me said...

Loved this post -- I fully believe in the power of dreams, whether it is telling us a story, reminding us of something, or helping us to solve a problem. Mine haven't told me a story yet, but that is so cool for you.

Kate Fall said...

I'm not usually that creative when I sleep. Go figure. But I usually do have pens and paper pretty much everywhere. I'll probably be in my 90s insisting on taking a pen and paper to bed with me but not remembering why.

Jessica Burkhart said...

Great post! I've never taken a story from a dream, but I'd love it if story ideas started to come via dreaming. :)