Lying in bed again. Only this time, my husband is deployed; and my mind and black cat are my only companions in a large, “empty” house. I’m a few months into the deployment, almost halfway. So to say I should be used to lying alone in bed is understandable. Just tell that to my anxiety. Every night, I lie there listening for anything out of the normal, unsettling silence of Kansas. The light on my nightstand illuminates half of the room. I’d recently installed a new lightbulb for a light by our front door, to deter any would be burglars. In my haste at the store, however, I’d managed to pick up lightbulbs as bright as the sun. I joked to my husband when he called that I had a UFO tractor beam out front shining into the house.
Back to me in bed.
I’m asleep but awake. I’m checking the front door is closed as the light outside pours in, but the door is open and it is pitch black outside. I’m cautiously walking to the bedroom away from the darkness, but I’m being cradle carried by a figure I just can’t see.
It lays me down gently on my side in the dark room. A gravelly voice starts to murmur in my ear. I sleepily ask if it’s my husband then my mother as I reach back to the figure’s face. Pinpoint teeth prick my fingers as it smiles and answers, “No”. My breath struggles to fully inflate my lungs as panic sets in. My limbs are trapped under the blankets in which I somehow became wrapped. The figure moves away to the bedroom door, into the light beam from the hallway. A black, flat top hat sit upon its black, straw hair. Its shoulders burdened by a heavy, black coat. Without looking back, it says “Come find me when you wake up” and then leaves, supposedly to wait in my living room.
With that, the spell on my limbs breaks and I awake to my partially lit bedroom throwing my sheets off. I grab my phone and text my husband who would be awake at that time. (Thank God for technology.) Tears are filling my eyes and my brain is hitting itself against a brick wall of fear. After a few texts my husband calls me and calmly guides me through turning on lights and walking through to the living room where (of course) no one is waiting. What a twist it would’ve been had someone been there, right?
Now, that was my first experience with a paralysis dream. During the following months I would have about two more but that first one took the cake. “How could a dream have such an effect as that to illicit that reaction?”, a person may ask. My anxiety could be a good reason, personally speaking. Those fears of an intruder manifesting themselves in my mind.
We hope to create such vivid feelings when we write. So why not tap into our dreams? Last week I talked about memories. The difference between memories and dreams are that our memories have been written and are just played back (as we remember them). Dreams are our brains’ construction using memories and thoughts and feelings as jumping points. Much like in our waking, our minds are writing scenes that flow and/or jump around with little connection. The mind makes us believe the dream is real. (Those falling dreams, anyone?) How we use dreams for writing can be simple.
Usually we dream and forget it. There are those who claim to be Inception DiCaprio and can manipulate their dream worlds. I find in my regular dreams I can realize that I am dreaming and subsequently wake up from said dream. (Lots of demon/ghost dreams led to that discovery. Going exorcist on those dreams!) However, dreams can play a role in your writing. They can be used to create a full scene, make a dream sequence for a character, that thing where the whole experience was a dream (not the best usage, honestly), or character creation.
A trick to start using your dreams for writing is, first and foremost, to start a dream journal. You don’t have to write every dream down (unless that one with pink elephants is helpful). Stick with just the ones you feel are meaningful and be fairly consistent. Eventually, you will be able to really remember your dreams because your brain will say “hey, these seem important since we’re writing them down. I’ll do my best to hold onto them after you wake up”. Just know you have about five minutes to recall “mundane” dreams after waking up. More intense ones tend to linger.
If you’re having trouble with a scene, think about it or read it over before you fall asleep. You may just dream about it.
Think about your characters and how they interact before you fall asleep. They might make an appearance.
Delve into your dreams. Do some research on dream interpretation sites and see what lies beneath. (Hello, Freud!)
Have you ever used your dreams in your writing? Do you find to be useful? Are you one of those who can change your dreams? Let me know in the comments below!
~Check back next week for Part 3-Character development~
Writer’s Brain Collection