Dreamabout is fair play
My first story came to me in a dream. I don’t usually remember my dreams, but this one night quite a few years ago I had two in the same night. Between them they became the basis for my first novel, Unbinding the Stone, which became the first book of a series as the story continued to grow the more I wrote. I’ve become quite a big fan of dreams since then, although I still don’t remember them any too well. But I do know that many times as I was writing something hard, and the story didn’t really flow, I could sleep on it and wake up with a complete resolution of the current problem in my head. I learned to do most of my writing first thing in the morning, when these ideas were freshest, and there wasn’t anybody else up to distract me.
It’s not just dreams, though. Dreams are simply undirected imagination, the free flow of ideas and images and thoughts. It’s possible to achieve the same sort of creative process in a more conscious way, although daydreaming on demand is a tricky subject to really master. The problem is consciousness, daydreaming is almost by definition an unconscious process, and most people are aware they they’ve been daydreaming only after they stop.
When the words are flowing there’s no problem. When they don’t, and my wheels are spinning and digging themselves deeper, that’s when the dreams help. Even while conscious, the depth of that trench is a guide for my daydreams, and I find myself watching a solution to my problems unfold before my inner eyes. In a slightly different vein, I can sometimes be daydreaming about something totally different from my story at hand, yet I can see something in it that applies. These little ideas often are not part of the storyline, but serve more as diversions, ways to disrupt the story and shift it off into a different direction. Which can be really handy when all your characters are doing is walking down the street.
Speaking of walking down the street, I’ve found that motion is a good tool to use to get the dream engine working. Motion can be conversation or actual physical movement, anything that catches the thoughts and pulls them along. Combining the two is really good. I’ve developed whole storylines with my kids as we drove to or from the events we go to. My son is still waiting for my current Tarkas book to get done, since that’s the one we plotted out together first. At the moment I’m working on a book about a man who kills ghosts, another story we plotted out together in the car. I just recently got cascades for both books while driving about, but I can only write so much at a time.
This is not to say that dreams are the only tool or resource in an author’s toolbox. It helps that I have a good memory for lines of dialog, song lyrics, and other bits of story. It helps to be out and about in the world, because that’s where the events happen that we make our stories about. Things happen, but they don’t become events until we tell a story about them and make them real. Life hands us these ingredients, and an author must pay attention to his life to receive them. Dreaming is one way to put these raw materials to work, there are others, but they’ll be subject of some other blog post.
How does dreamtime affect your writing/creative life?
Like many writers, I started when a story came along and decided that I should write it. Don’t ask me why. Others followed, until now I’m afraid to go out of the house with a recorder or notebook in my hand. But I show them, I refuse to write the same story twice!
This week’s tea is Bigelow’s Wild Blueberry Acai tea. I discovered it last week and I love it. The flavor is strong, sweet and hardly needs any sweetener at all. And best of all it is supposed to be a great source of Vitamins A&C. Blueberries might even help your brain – fostering neuron-to-neuron communication in the brain.