Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Dream Journal

Speaking of ideas...

In the workshops I teach, I always tell writers that if they’re not writing down their dreams, they’re working WAY too hard.

The Price, which has made me quite a nice sum of money in book sales and film options, came from a recurring dream. Parts of The Unseen were from a dream. Several scripts I’ve sold came directly from dreams.

And I'm not talking about just initial story ideas. Your dreams can help you all the way along as you write your WIP.

Our subconscious minds are tireless, and so eager to do that work that we ourselves would postpone until Doomsday if we could.

DON’T do all that work yourself. You don’t have to. Let your subconscious and unconscious minds in on the process. There really are story elves, and those are they. Them? Uh, whatever.

If you don’t generally remember your dreams, then you’ll have to work at this a little to coax the dreams out. Keep a dream journal (another trip to the bookstore! Yay!) and pen beside your bed every night (this tells your dreaming mind that you’re serious about remembering.) Or use a tape recorder if that’s better for you.

As soon as you wake up – in the morning, or in the middle of the night, whenever – stay still and relaxed in your bed and try to remember your dream before you get up or think about anything else at all. Try not to move.

At first you may remember just the vaguest details. The color red. There was snow. Your wife was in it – maybe. WHATEVER you can even barely remember, write it down. Even just the feeling you wake up with in the morning. You have to court your dreams at first, but if you demonstrate a commitment to remembering, your dreams will become more and more vivid (until it can be exhausting to try to write them all down, but we can deal with that when we come to it.).

One dreamwork trick I find useful is that if you can’t remember a dream at first, slowly and gently roll over into the position you were sleeping in before you woke up (if you’ve moved). This sounds crazy, but if you do this, the dream may drop right back into your head and you can write down all the details.

A classic dreamwork technique is to focus on a particular question, for example, a story problem, while you’re drifting off to sleep. You may well get the answer in your dreams.

There are many, many great books on dreamwork out there if you want to investigate further – dreams are enlightening for much more than your creative work.

(next - back to premise)

- Alex


The Screenwriting Tricks workbook is now up in all e formats, including on Smashwords, where yes, you can finally download it as a pdf file or whatever format you want. Any version - $2.99!

- Smashwords (includes pdf and online viewing)

- Kindle

- Barnes & Noble/Nook

- Amazon UK

- Amaxon DE (Eur. 2.40)



Jake Nantz said...

I'd have to keep that book secret if I wrote down my dreams honestly. I get some pretty weird ones, and I wouldn't want my wife to think I'm any more screwed up than she already does!

Unknown said...

Hi Alex. Dreams are TOO important, I agree 100 percent.

I want to read one of your books, and then perhaps interview you if you would let me. Can you advise? What one would you like a newbie fan to read?

Jennifer Shirk said...

Ooh that's good. I need to keep paper by my bed. When I'm drifting off to sleep I think of lot of good story ideas or scenes, but in the morning I can't remember anything.

Sonja Foust said...

I'm a big proponent of this. I've learned SO MUCH about myself from keeping a dream journal, and it's been a real healing process in some instances.

My twin sister and I shared a room as kids, and the last question we always asked each other was, "What should we dream about tonight?" Sounds weird, but if I answered, "fairies" or "ponies," fairies or ponies usually showed up somewhere. :)

Karel said...

Dream journals rock.

They do take a lot of effort, though. But it is amazing what you get out of it.

Some people manage to dream consciously after keeping a journal for a while.

I remember doing this when I was younger. It's the most awesome thing.

Didn't get any workable story ideas out of it, though.