Friday, March 18, 2011

Writing from a dream

We all have dreams. I don’t mean like Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream, though hopefully you have some like that. I’m talking about the sorts of crazy things you get while you’re asleep.

Well, if you’ve got good enough recall, you can turn these into fantastic stories.

I have done this myself two or three times, one dream even evolved into a whole novel. This morning, in particular, I spent around an hour moving in and out of various stages of sleep, returning to this dream over and over again. This was extremely helpful in terms of recall, and I now have a very neat outline.

It can be very difficult. By the time you get to your computer, or notebook, or tape recorder, the events will never be as clear or as vibrant as they were in your dream. When you do go to write it, it will never feel as huge or fantastic as it was before you opened your eyes.

And this is a fact you just have to accept. Now, myself, as a writer, I am a perfectionist and nothing ever comes out as epic or amazing as I envisioned it before I put finger to key. But again, that’s just something we have to learn to accept. Humility keeps us in check. The minute we get full of ourselves is the minute we become bad writers.

The key to writing from a dream is learning to use what you have as a jumping-off point. Write down as many details as you can remember; now build on it. The where, the why, and the how. I have taken dreams and built them into existing storyworlds, or developed entirely new ones based on one simple, small thing.

You really have to be creative. You’re never going to retell the dream exactly as it happened, and if you do it’s not going to have the same significance. But you can re-create the same feelings in your reader, if that’s your eventual goal. Or, like me, you can just produce a really neat story.

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