Monday, March 31, 2008

Writing About Dreams.

Have you ever been so frustrated because someone else didn't do their job and then it all just landed in your lap, behind schedule and with the same deadline? Not only do you have to make up for last time, but you also have to go back and correct the things that were done incorrectly or not at all. This puts you even further behind schedule.
Yep, that was me at 3:30 PM, just an hour an a half before I got off work. I'm off now, of course, but I'm still working. The task that was just assigned to me is stalled, I can't connect to the servers but the users have gone home for the day and had already done so by the time I was told that I had to pick up the slack. What a day.
When things like this happen I definitely don't feel like writing. Too many distractions, too much stress. I can't use that as an excuse though, can I?

Have you ever had a dream that was so vivid it was like watching a movie? Not just any movie, definitely not an old one, but a new movie filmed in 'High Def'. I did this weekend. It was so interesting and complex that I may have no choice but to write a story, using it for the theme and plot idea. When I was young my father told me that he heard that Stephen King got the ideas for some of his books from dreams. I remember him telling me this had something to do with the devil. A lot of other things had to do with the devil too, such as The Nightmare Before Christmas, and most of the music on the radio. But this is about dreams.
My dream this weekend was about aliens assuming the forms of humans. It was all very coy and intricate. I think it would make for a delicious story. Just for clarification: I'm not a devil worshiper. (And I don't wear Magic Underpants.)

Tips for writing about (from) dreams:

Keep a notebook by your bed.
Dreams are slippery little beasts! Don't allow them to escape. Keep a notebook on your nightstand to jot down those bizarre night visions!

Avoid alcohol as a sleep aid.
Check out The Effects of Alcohol on Sleep. Take note of this key part of the article:
...alcohol is metabolized rapidly and blood concentrations are negligible by the middle of the night for most individuals who have a few drinks prior to bedtime, often resulting in withdrawal symptoms thereafter. These may include shallow sleep and multiple awakenings, REM rebound associated with nightmares or vivid dreams, sweating, and general activation.
This would be a dangerous way to attempt a vivid dream-state. I have used alcohol as a sleep aid before and while it does help you "fall asleep" quicker, you don't wake up feeling rested. It would be best to consult a doctor to find a more suitable sleep aid.

Don't snore.
If your snoring wakes your spouse or bed-partner, you may not realize it but they are probably beating you with their pillow. This can be bad for dreaming as it would interrupt the deep stages of R.E.M. sleep. This is my professional opinion, of course.

Don't force it.
You can't make dreams happen. There are periods in our lives where we can't remember a single dream. That's just the way it is. It could be a symptom of deeper sleep issues, if you have cause for concern you may want to consult your doctor. You could have sleep apnea or another sleep disorder. There are tests that can be performed that can identify these conditions.

Creative Writing Exercise:
Write about one of your dreams! (No, you don't get extra points for actually being a devil worshiper...)


Jason said...

Musicians have the same experience with the dream being about music.

I've read similar stories about musicians that keep DAT recorders or little micro-cassette recorders by the bed so that when they have these dreams and come out of them, they'll grab the recorder and try to hum the melody.

I've had the dreams before, but I've never taken it to the step of trying to capture the music. I actually think it would be funny to hear a half asleep person trying to hum (or grunt more likely) a melody or bass line. That would be interesting to hear.

Ken Armstrong said...

So she's beating me with a pillow eh?

I'm just off to remove all the lumps of wood, iron bars and hammers from the bedroom... just in case.

Mary DeMuth said...

Found you in a roundabout way...

I dreamed the ending of my first novel. The ending wouldn't come until one night, it came out perfectly in my dreams.

Mary DeMuth

Duluk said...

Hmmm, I'm failing on two counts. :) I usually drink a couple of glass of wine each night and though I've often tried keeping a notebook by my bed, the problem is always light. My wife doesn't like it when I turn on the lamp in the middle of the night waking her up. And those tiny little book-lamps never seem to work right or last long for me. <shrug>

But you've inspired me to make another attempt to reconfigure my ways.