In Dreams

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Paul Whybrow

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We've previously discussed inspiration that comes to us while asleep, in a couple of closed threads:

https://colony.litopia.com/threads/creativity-in-sleep.813/

https://colony.litopia.com/threads/dream-power.3708/#post-44278

It remains a fascinating topic, as for one thing, while the body rests during sleep, the brain remains active, getting recharged, but monitoring functions such as breathing, cramp and how full your bladder is! It also thinks.

It's said that sleep has two phases: shallow non-REM and a deeper REM period, when dreams occur.

Human Brain Still Awake, Even During Deep Sleep

In the last couple of years, I've been trying to gain useful meaning from lucid dreaming. I mainly do so in the hour before getting up, when my grey cells are tussling between a desire to stay asleep in dreamland and getting up to do essential writerly tasks. :rolleyes:

I haven't done any creative writing for a couple of months, after deciding to devote my energies to self-promotion, including blogging and querying literary agents. I feel the lack. To me, writing a story is like creating a garden, while editing is more of a weeding chore, but querying is as unrewarding as unloading a lorry full of paving slabs—tiring, repetitive and with no visible improvement—but, which might lead somewhere someday.

Thus frustrated, my noddle has seemingly been rummaging through European encyclopedias, which I didn't know were shelved somewhere, as I've recently woke with some improbable names on my lips. I don't know quite know who Terenjé Sesteciné will become in a future story, but I've added his name to a folder of character names on my desktop. Last week, I got out of bed thinking about Tezzarrini's Scorchers—who could be an elite squadron of space-age attack ships—or maybe, a red-hot chilli pastry devised by a sadistic Italian cook!

Wondering if I'd read these names somewhere online and forgotten them, I ran a search which confirmed it's my sleeping imagination that invented them. I shouldn't be surprised, as the brain is an astonishing thinking machine; that it's not entirely under our control is intimidating.

43 Facts About Your Brain That Will Blow Your Mind

Some famous stories were inspired by dreams, such as Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, E. B. White's Stuart Little and Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Stephen King stepped into a nightmare on a flight to London, which became Misery.

Have you had any peculiar dreams, which proved useful for your writing?

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That's a brilliant dream. @Kirsten , a story in the making right there!

I dream vividly a lot, and use a lot of the sensations, situations and bizarre happenings in my writing. I've been flying regularly in my dreams for as long as I can remember; I have THE maddest dream about eagles and flying which I won't bore you with here, but was the starting point for my current book.

I've dreamed of being a dead nun (!) and of hurtling through the galaxies (that was freaky).

Actually, now I think of it, I think all my stories have begun with the nucleus of an idea from a dream.

I also dream in colour, and can remember smells and tastes like a particular cake (in one pregnancy I dreamed repeatedly about a specific chocolate cake. I made every chocolate cake recipe I could find until I found the right one. It was delicious) and sensations like damp air and wet, cold grass or hair being pulled on branches.

Jeez, I love dreaming.
 
Timely! I've been struggling with the first arc of my WIP. It's really been bothering me, there was just something missing.

Last Tuesday, the Goddess in the book LITERALLY appeared to me in a dream. And she was amazing - way more terrifying than I ever imagined her to be. Like, not horror terrifying, but ANCIENT terrifying, like South American Gods type terrifying. The image (statuesque, weathered jade, but feminine and beautiful, resonating this amazing blue and green light that flowed from something she was holding at her center) is forever seared in to my mind.

I woke up really, really early, and in a flurry of (ugh, inspiration?), what was missing in the first arc came rushing into me.

It was HER. SHE was missing. She was always there, and I knew her "why" but it wasn't in the work. It was exhausting, all of the information that came into me. I spent the rest of the day drained, but satisfied in a way only this could possibly.

I mean, wtf. How awesome! Since that Tuesday, I've been revising her into where she belongs, and for the first time, I'm actually proud of this book. To me, nothing's missing now, it's a whole and complete work that I can finally put down.

All because of a dream... and a single, powerful image of an ancient Goddess. That came from somewhere.

Life is beautiful.
 
What a brilliant burst of inspiration, or whatever you could call it @ghuffman :)

Do you write your dreams down? I do, when my dreams are excessively disturbing. I read back on some of them recently (the eagle one and one involving Morgan Freeman, which still gives me the willies, in a bad way) and they are so long and convoluted, and goodness, I hope no-one ever tries to decipher them as they sound like the ramblings of a crazy person (weeeellll... :oops: ). I'm going to have to practice concise dream recollection that's coherent like @Kirsten above.
 
It's said that sleep has two phases: shallow non-REM and a deeper REM period, when dreams occur.

While it's obvious we need sleep, it's interesting that no one knows for certain why we need it. In fact, there are people who don't sleep at all and have no problem functioning. Also, there are more stages than REM and deep sleep. If we're talking about a sleep cycle, then wakefulness or restlessness would be a part of the 'sleep cycle'. Also, light sleep, deep sleep, and REM -- AT LEAST. Deep sleep is said to make us feel physically refreshed while REM sleep helps us emotionally. Light sleep is sort of the bridge between wakefulness and the other stages.

Have you had any peculiar dreams, which proved useful for your writing?

Yeah and what happens when I TRY to sleep is often stuff I write about. But, because writers are human beings who are just like other human beings -- mostly -- the correlation between vivid dreams and imaginative writing.... I wouldn't say there is one. Or at least, not one which indicates causation.

Cuz ... that's what we were told as freshmen in college .. correlation does not equal causation ... repeat after me ... correlation does not equal causation ...
 
What a brilliant burst of inspiration, or whatever you could call it @ghuffman :)

Do you write your dreams down? I do, when my dreams are excessively disturbing. I read back on some of them recently (the eagle one and one involving Morgan Freeman, which still gives me the willies, in a bad way) and they are so long and convoluted, and goodness, I hope no-one ever tries to decipher them as they sound like the ramblings of a crazy person (weeeellll... :oops: ). I'm going to have to practice concise dream recollection that's coherent like @Kirsten above.

No, but you know what, I’m going to start. After this week, I can see how useful they really are. And crazy makes for good fiction right? I’ve always wondered what makes some people dream so vividly, and others so rarely... it really is a gift you have.

I think for this one, my soul was just tired of this story, lol! Pity inspiration, perhaps :)
 
I can't say that any of my dreams have become the basis of or even part of my books.
But sometimes I will go to sleep thinking about a difficult plot problem or unidentified character and awake with a solution in my head.
But when my brain is running hot, on the go, generating a story idea, I am rarely able to sleep at all until I've got it all on paper or in the computer.
 
Mine are usually too disjointed to give life to a story, also washed away by the first cup of tea. Now weve had this discussion, I'll probably dream in glorious technicolor tonight. Notepad on standby.
 
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