Friday, January 2, 2009

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream...

Here's an easy question: When's the last time you suffered from writer's block? Perhaps a better question would be, what writer hasn't buckled under the weight of this inexplicable, often maddening condition? Call it what you will--an affliction of the mind, a symptom of stress, or what happens when your Muse takes a vacation without your permission--the fact is that whenever it occurs, it's pretty darn aggravating. And if it persists long enough, it can become toxic to even the most successful writing career.

I guess all of that was a roundabout way of saying WB sucks. I should know. I'm dealing with a rather nasty case of it right now myself, which I blame mostly on the fantastic insanity of the holidays. Between my letdown from the end of NaNoWriMo (the highlight of my year, people!) and the hubbub of continuous social gatherings, my writing gear always winds up on pause from December 1 all the way until the second week in January. Over the years, I've learned to anticipate the event and plan accordingly, but that doesn't make it any less frustrating. So, if any of you guys are in the same boat right now, trust me, I feel your pain.

However, it's a new year now, time to reboot the ol' creative hard drive. And I'm happy to say that I've found the perfect way for us writers to get our mojo back. Take a wild guess. Are you ready for this? C'mon, admit it...You're on the edge of your seat... No? Well, you should be. Give up? Alright, here it is...

Go. To. Sleep.

That's it. Seriously. If you haven't discovered it by now, dreams are a writer's best friend, an absolute gold mine of ideas just waiting to be dug up and written down. If you don't believe me, take a look at this article I found on about how to
effectively harness your dreams. I particularly like "Idea #4: Pay attention to how your dreams affect your writing."

"Do you find yourself eschewing writing after you experience certain types of dreams, such as nightmares? Do other dreams seem to invigorate you? If so, you may want to seriously consider working on overcoming the inability to work. Look for these types of psychological patterns after dreams and learn how to work with (or, if necessary, against) them. You may have underlying issues that need to be addressed before you can write at your personal zenith."

Aside from the use of peculiar words such as "eschewing" and "zenith," I found this idea fascinating. I would also add that the reverse is true, too: pay attention to how your writing affects your dreams. For example, I find that I tend to have a lot of dreams about children and pregnancy whenever I've spent too much time away from a work-in-progress that I enjoy, and some dream analysts suggest that in dreams, such images represent hidden creativity. Many times, your subconscious will remind you of stories your conscious mind has buried...and sometimes it will give you ideas you would never consider while awake...

Try writing down your dreams for a week and let me know how it turns out. You just might be surprised at the results...

Update: Two nights ago, I had a dream that gave me a phenomenal idea for a novel, a retelling of a well-known Greek myth. I find that the more I write down my dreams, the easier it becomes for me to remember them. So try it out for awhile, even if you have a hard time remembering your dreams at first. You never know what might happen... It worked for Stephenie Meyer!

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