“Dreaming permits each and every one of us to be quietly and
safely insane every night of our lives.”
– William C. Dement
Where do you get ideas for your stories or poems? Does it come from a snippet of conversation you overheard on the subway between quarreling lovers? The honest expressions of children on the playground? The heart-wrenching recounting of a friend who just found out they have mere months to live?
The truth is, if you look hard enough, you can find inspiration anywhere.
Dreams are but one, but possibly my favorite. I am one of the lucky dreamers who has incredibly vivid dreams. Not lucid. I don’t necessarily feel I have control over them, even when I am aware that I’m in the middle of a dream.
My dreams are also extensively detailed. Sometimes to the point I feel I’m more tired when I wake up than I was when I went to bed because it seems I’ve spent the whole night exploring entire worlds that don’t exist.
I also do not usually have a problem remembering my dreams days, weeks, sometimes even years after I’ve had them. I have recurring dreams and nightmares that have plagued me for decades – luckily I don’t spend many of my waking hours obsessing over them like I did when I was a child.
The basis for No More Champagne came from one of the most vivid dreams I have ever had. I was out of town, alone, and sleeping in the single most awful, terribly uncomfortable bed that any human being has had the extreme displeasure of paying to sleep on. It was my third or fourth night on that “bed,” and I think my subconscious took pity on me and decided if I was going to be physically miserable, I would be thoroughly entertained.
Around four o’clock in the morning, I woke with an idea. The idea grabbed hold of my throat and dug in its claws in the best way possible. I couldn’t shake it. All I really had available to me at the time was my iPhone, and I filled the virtual notepad up with ideas, plot points, characterization notes, potential lines of dialogue – it was crude, but it worked.
As soon as I had access to my laptop, my passion for the project was at a fever pitch and the long-stream-of-consciousness draft was out of my system in twelve days.
On average, it works out to roughly 7,090 words per day, though I know one day my fingers and my brain choreographed flawlessly together and I got just shy of 11,000 words down in a single day.
Dreams work for me.
Here are my tips for getting the most of your dreamy muse:
1.| If you aren’t blessed – or cursed – depending on how you look at it, with the ability to remember dreams in great detail for long periods of time, the tried and true advice of keeping a notebook and pen by your bed is excellent… at the very least make the notepad app on your phone the last app opened so it is automatically on the screen once you unlock your phone. Make sure your thumbs are nimble.
2.| This tip won’t apply to everyone, but, if you need an alarm in the mornings, and you can get away with it, don’t use a jarring beeping sound that sends a surge of adrenaline coursing through your body. If a gentler melody or song is enough to wake you, then it will be much easier for you to wake up and feel the remnants of whatever emotion(s) your dream caused you.
3.| Don’t get bogged down in the details. Jot down only the bare essentials, lest you forget it all. Prominent colors, specific guest appearances, did a smell leave an impression? Write single words down quickly, you can make sense of them later. Something like this:
That short list could’ve belonged to the dream that inspired No More Champagne, easily. Those keywords can help you remember the minutia later.
4.| Talk about your dream. I am a morning person. I usually wake up in a great mood, ready for the day, excited… I’m that annoying person you hate. My husband is the opposite. The less he has to function in the mornings, the better for him. So, I imagine he isn’t exactly thrilled when I start out the morning with, “Holy crap, I have to tell you about my dream.” (In fact, I know he isn’t. It’s usually met with a grunt or groan signifying that he will not retain anything I say, but won’t tell me to shut up.)
Seriously, though, talk. Talk to your significant other, to your dog (who will listen intently), to your cat (who thinks you should listen to it), or to your own beautiful reflection in the mirror. You’ll go off on tangents, which is fine! Just talk.
5.| Lastly, do not go to bed obsessing over remembering your dream. Go to sleep with as open a mind as possible.
Neat things I’ve heard about dreams:
- Anyone you see in a dream is someone you’ve met or seen before, no matter how fleeting. This theorizes that our brains cannot actually make up faces.
- Vitamin B12 taken before bed (dosages vary) can cause crazy intense dreams. (Thanks to Thomas Jast, I
wasted spent a couple of hours researching this phenomena.)
- People who were born blind still dream, only their dreams are auditory.
Have you ever been deeply inspired by a dream? Nightmare? If so, care to share? Have you ever heard of certain foods, beverages, supplements enhancing the dream experience?
At any rate, sleep well my lovelies. And sweet dreams.