Friday, September 12, 2014

Inspiration of The Unconscious Mind

By Sarah Reichert

“Dreams, they are who I am when I’m too tired to be me.” 
Jarod Kintz

They’re silly creatures, often devoid of reason, but dreams make up who we are and how we experience our world at a level no one else (not even ourselves) can see. 

Whether its unicorns with piles of rainbow ‘road apples’ trailing behind them (that one could’ve been the result of NyQuil), the old flight school buddy telling me the plane is perfectly safe despite its duct-taped wings, or the dark and evil hotel which appears at least once every few months, dreams prompt creativity.

Most nights I can’t recall the odd and whimsical stories that cycle through my head, but I love the mornings that I wake up at just the right instant to still see the echoes of them.  Even when the frightening ones jolt me out of bed in the middle of the dark, and I rush to peek in on my kids, check that the dogs are still alive (usually they are snoring so I can easily tell) and see that no fires have started, I’m still somewhat charmed by the power of my own mind.  It is always working, even long after I’ve given up the fight.

Dreams are excellent fodder, stepping stones of inspiration for new and fantastical stories and ideas.  Some have said that they are a cheap shortcut to the hard work of storytelling, but I say when push comes to shove, use all the material you have at your disposal.  (Unless you use the “it was all a dream” ploy in your final chapter—then we have to take away your writer’s card).  Maybe those characters and ideas wouldn’t have otherwise been made available to you.  Maybe you couldn’t capture the exact vividness of a scene until your mind unleashed its own potential without the limiting presence of consciousness.

Dreams make for good starting blocks, add illumination to details, and can even unbind the constraint of writers block.  A good practice is to keep a journal beside your bed to write down what you remember from your dreams.  Meditating on a question or plot problem in your writing before you nod off can sometimes point your brain in the right direction for sorting out solutions.  Even the daylight hours can be used to help writers unlock their potential.  Day dream in the available quiet times you have.  Letting your mind wander, even if far off of your plot line’s path, can lead you to new and wonderful solutions to problems that seemed insurmountable before.

Just don’t expect any coherent, whizz-bang ending from a shot of NyQuil.  Unless your novel is about a time traveling unicorn who eats chocolate kittens for lunch.

Have your dreams ever helped or hindered your work?  What are your favorite dreams to have?


Patricia Stoltey said...

Unfortunately, I tend to have nightmares. Makes me wonder if I should be writing horror novels.

One time I did get a story idea from a dream....the old tintype photo of a young girl stayed in my mind for a long time. I wrote a short story that eventually turned into a novel manuscript. It has not been published, but maybe someday....

John Paul McKinney said...

I love dreams. One evening at a particularly low point in my life, I was on the telephone with a good friend who said "I want you to have a good dream tonight." "Fine, Art," I answered. I was just about to go to bed. "No," he said, "I mean it. Have yourself a nice dream." WOW! I didn't know someone could influence my unconscious that way. It was a Beaut...... But as Winnie the Pooh, my favorite philosopher says,“I think we dream so we don’t have to be apart for so long. If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can be together all the time.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Sarah Sullivan said...

My dreams are so odd, I would have to write fantasy novels, but I agree that they make wonderful springboards.

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