Creative Writing – How To Write In Your Sleep

Sleep is a time for rest, where the sole purpose is to rejuvenate our bodies and minds, ready for the challenges of a new day. And that’s all sleep is, so we should write off this time each night and focus on making our waking our as productive as possible. Right?
Well, yes and no…
Yes we all need sleep, though the amount varies, to feel refreshed and to be able to function at our best, as a creative writer, and simply as a human being. As I’m sure you’ve experienced before, a day or two of poor sleeping and the negative effects soon start to kick in.
The answer is also No, though, because whilst we’re resting our bodies as we sleep, our minds are far from at rest. And in fact it’s while we’re asleep we can come up with some of our most amazing creative ideas, and our best creative writing.
So why aren’t you waking up and finding a new chapter of your novel magically written beside your bed each morning? It’s because although you have great potential for being creative while you sleep, you need to first be aware of this, then find the best ways to tap into it, to allow you to see and feel the full benefits to your creative writing.
Let’s start by talking about dreams.
We all dream, it’s not something we can switch off when we feel like it. But most of don’t remember even a fraction of our dreams, so it feels like we never have any. Dreams are an incredible source of creative ideas. But like the ideas we have during waking hours, if we don’t record them, we’ll never be able to use them, and they’ll evaporate, lost forever. “But how can I record my dreams if I don’t ever have any, or if I don’t remember having any?” you may well ask.
There are techniques you can use to better remember your dreams, and one of the best is to keep a dream journal beside your bed. Anytime you wake, whether to get up in the morning, or in the middle of the night, jot down the ideas in your head immediately in your journal, before you’ve even fully woken.
This technique takes some practice and works best if you make it a habit you don’t even think about. Some obvious ways you can make this easier is to have your journal and a pen very close to your bed so you can reach out and grab in a second.
Another way to help makes this process more instinctive is to learn to write in the dark! This is your own dream journal that no-one else needs to see. It doesn’t matter whether the writing in is neat, or if you go over the lines, or if your dream ideas seem nonsensical or illogical. The main aim is to get those ideas, those memories of dreams, captured in a way you can return to and expand upon in with your creative writing at a future date.
You’ll be amazed at how quickly you can train yourself to not only write in a way that’s legible and easy to come back to, but in a concise way that captures the essence of your dreams and ideas. Just focus on getting the most vivid, powerful images and ideas down. Don’t worry about every tiny detail, or getting (dreamed) events in the correct order or anything like that. Record the idea at its fullest and most memorable. You’ll find that the more often you do this, the more easily you’ll remember your dreams. It becomes a habit, like we spoke of before.
This habit then extends to not only writing down your creative ideas, but allowing yourself to have them, and to remember them in the first place. You’re giving your creative mind a clear message that its ideas are valuable and worth listening to. In turn your creativity will repay you with a steady flow of ideas.
Another way to enhance this basic technique is to wake up 15 or 30 minutes before you normally do. Then drift back to sleep before getting up at your usual time. The time in between, when you’re just dozing, is one of the richest times for dreams, and it’ll seem like you have more dreams, images and ideas in that short intense period of time than the rest of the night put together.
Again this is something to get in the habit of, and will become more instinctive. Maybe you could set two alarms, the first 30 mins before you need to get up, then the second when you need to get up.
Using your dreams in this way will enhance your creative writing no end. The more you do it, the more ideas and insights will flow. In fact, although you won’t quite be able to wake to finished chapters beside your bedside, it will feel like your writing in your sleep. And what better way to use that sleeping time!

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