Humankind has always been fascinated by the world of dreams. While we sleep, our brain processes the myriad thoughts, images, and events of our lives, and creates surrealistic landscapes that entertain us. Dreams occur during the REM phases of sleep, and are considered a necessary and healthful part of life.
Dreams can become a wonderful source of writing inspiration. The imagery from your subconscious is unfiltered by your logical thought processes, and often combine the strange and unusual in unexpected ways. Dreams are often emotionally evocative, which is why you may wake up elated, scared, or upset after a particularly memorable dream. These experiences are worth recording and incorporating in your writing, to encourage such responses from your readers.
Make Dream Journaling a Habit
Although many people don’t remember their dreams, you can encourage yourself to remember your dreams by keeping a dream journal and a lamp beside your bed. If you wait until you get dressed and get your first cup of coffee, you most likely won’t remember much at all. Get into the practice of writing down anything you remember, before getting out of bed.
You may only remember a color or an emotion, instead of actual events occurring within your dream world at first. With time and practice, you will recall more about each dream, with more clarity. Don’t worry about whether or not what you are writing makes sense. As long as you can write somewhat legibly first thing in the morning, you will be able to come back and mine your dream journal for creative tidbits.
While dreams are very creative and inspiring all by themselves, dream interpretation can add a new layer of clarity and depth to your dreams. There are many dream interpretation books and websites available, explaining what certain symbols mean in the conscious world. Even if you don’t believe that dreams are a reflection of your real life, using dream interpretation you can come up with new plots for your fiction writing.
Also, pay attention to unusual aspects of your dreams. For example, I rarely dream in color or in audio. So when I do notice a color, or actually hear words, I do my best to remember them and see if they hold any meaning in my life. Color within a story works well as a metaphor for the theme of your story, or can simply set the mood in your setting or your character’s outfits. Audio doesn’t often translate as well into a novel, but snippets of dialog can be used from your dreams if you’re lucky enough to catch them.
Do you keep a dream journal? Have you ever used elements of your dreams in your writing? Has a story idea ever woken you up in the middle of the night?