Friday, December 24, 2010

I'm Dreaming of a "Write" Christmas

Fun Fact: The average person has over 1460 dreams a year, according to the backside of one of the pages in my page-a-day calendar. What does this mean for a writer?

Morning Pages

Many writers are familiar with Julia Cameron's morning pages, usually a three page free-write to get the creative juices flowing before anything else in your day. When I am in the habit of morning pages, I have the notebook, a pen, and my glasses within stretching distance so I can start writing before I'm entirely awake. You can imagine, some interesting, albeit sloppy, writing finds its way to those college-ruled pages. More often than not, a shadow of a dream is still clouding my mind's eye, so I start to write about the dream. I may go into detail about the dream, telling it like a story. I may only remember fragments of the dream--who was in it, how I felt--so the writing may turn to wondering why that particular scene visited my early morning picture show.

Writers in the middle of a project may find themselves working out characters or plots in their morning pages, meaning they may have been dreaming about their stories, or about working on their stories. The only way to find out? Start writing morning pages. If anything else, they are a great way to empty all of the fluff that's built up in your mind, so you are free to get to your concrete, creative work.


If you were like me, and felt a twinge of jealousy upon hearing that the whole Twilight phenomenon started with a really vivid dream*, you better start paying attention to your dreams. In your dreams, there are no limitations, no Inner Editor telling you that this story "just doesn't make sense" or "has no market value". The story that passes your eyelids as you sleep goes along its merry way, regardless of any rules, gravity or otherwise.

Even if you are not doing Morning Pages, consider keeping a dream journal. You may not have any need for that strange robot story now, when you are writing historical romance, but later your KR252** Model may be just the right character for your futuristic tale. For other dreams, you may write them just as they happened, unrealistic and all. Rough drafts are always just that, rough. So shape it into something manageable later, once your waking mind has had time to process it.

Dreams are a great place to start if you are suffering a bit of writer's block. Did your alarm go off just before you opened that door? Grab your pen and write what happened next. Have a disturbing dream that left you feeling uneasy? Rewrite the dream, giving it a more positive ending. Or, you can channel your inner Stephen King and rewrite it to make yourself feel more uneasy or scared (if you were the main character in the frightening dream, of course you can edit in a new lead).

"I dreamed I was a writer..."

I've heard that concentrating on a problem before you go to sleep can help your mind find a solution in a dream by morning. As I already mentioned, you may awaken to a way out of a lost plot line, or to a new character to add to your next chapter. If you pay attention, you may be late for work because the pages are pouring out!

Another way you may try using dreams to your advantage is to pump up your writing career itself. I'm not just talking about where your stories are going, rather, I am talking about where you are going. There's enough written about the possible power of positive thinking, that I won't go too much into it here, except to say this: Positive thinking doesn't create the framework of success, but it does clear an area for that framework to be built on. 

If you begin to think of yourself as a successful writer, if you start to dream of what being a great writer means to you, and if you have the desire to make your dreams a reality, you have the first tool in your writer's toolbox: a writer's mindset. By letting these dreams slip into your sleeping hours, you're building a step to take when you awake. It is up to you, then, to grab onto something real and build onto it. 

In your writing dream, did you have tons of fans? Then your writing daytime needs to entail building your platform. In your writing dream, are you being asked, as an expert on your topic, to speak at functions? Your writing daytime better include some public speaking time. Maybe this is the week to join Toastmasters. All kind of dreaming is fantastic for the creative mind, but it needs to turn into something tangible. Otherwise, you aren't becoming a writer, you're becoming a character stuck in the land of dreams.

Have you ever turned a dream into a story? How much of it changed?

Merry Christmas! Give yourself the gift of writing; sneak away and write a few lines...



*You can witness my Stephenie Meyer feud Here and Here.

**I just made that up, but an Amazon search says this model has something to do with nonotechnology.


  1. You've got me pumped. I've read Julia Cameron's book, but had let morning pages slip away a long time ago. It's time to start again. Thanks for the reminder! And give myself the gift of writing a little bit today? Yes! Here I thought all my gifts had already been opened :-) I'm heading off to open the notebook to see what will show up in it...

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Thanks for the tips!

  2. Yes, some of my story ideas have come from dreams. Have a wonderful holiday season! :)

  3. Morning pages have definitely helped me figure out some of the problems with my stories -- but I have to have coffee and the dining room table and the peace and quiet and inspiration of early morning thanksgiving before anyone else is up.


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