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Sunday, March 17, 2013


Dream Your Way to a Better Story

by Crystal J. Otto

I’ve enjoyed sleeping for as long as I can remember. My mom may tell a different story about childhood naps and early bedtimes, but as far as I am concerned, sleep is a very necessary and enjoyable activity. I sleep, therefore I dream, and in recent years I’ve incorporated my dreams into my journal. Journaling my dreams has provided me with fabulous material for short stories and blog posts and has also given me ideas on how to enhance my writing to make it more vivid and exciting for the reader.

I’ve suggested dream journaling to those who have diagnosed themselves with ‘writers block.’ I personally have found that dream journaling is a great way to stop those recurring dreams or those that end too soon. Recurring dreams and those that end in the middle seem to have one thing in common—something needs attention or closure. I’ve found that by writing down what I remember about the dream and then adding the unfinished details I can find the closure my sleeping self was looking for. This may not come naturally at first, but the more you journal the easier it gets.

My most recent example was a dream where I was visiting the doctor and he was about to give me some important news, and my alarm starting blaring and I woke up. I had that unsettled feeling, and I grabbed my journal later in the day and wrote a happy ending in which the doctor explained that I was expecting a child. I went on to write about a textbook pregnancy, quick delivery, and gorgeous baby girl with blue eyes and blonde hair. Those unsettled feelings were quickly replaced with joy, pride, and excitement!

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Blogger MP said...

This reminds me of author Eric Maisel's "sleep thinking" technique that I haven't used in awhile. Before you sleep or nap, you give yourself a prompt like "I wonder what should happen next?” (in your story/novel), or "I wonder what creative project I should work on next?" or whatever. You try to just wonder about it vs. worrying. A lot times your mind works stuff out as you sleep-ponder!

10:34 AM  
Blogger Crystal Otto said...

MP - I can't wait to read more about Eric's technique. What a great idea, thank you so much for sharing! (for anyone else interested, I found Eric's book on Amazon:

2:51 PM  
Blogger Margo Dill said...

Marcia and Crystal: I actually do this. I did it with my YA novel that I NEED to send out and with my current WIP--a mg mystery. It works. For some reason, I always write better once I've done it.

4:20 PM  
Blogger Crystal Otto said...

Margo - I'm starting to think that I can tell my husband that an afternoon nap is a mandatory part of the creativity process, right? It wouldn't really be a nap, it would be 'work related'...:)

4:24 PM  
Blogger Renee Roberson said...

Neat idea, Crystal, and I love the story about how you found out your daughter was on her way! Now I want to check out Eric's book, too.

7:15 AM  
Blogger Crystal Otto said...

Thanks Renee! A side story about my daughter was the VERY real dream that I had 2 days before she was born and in the dream she was a cat ... I wish I had re-written that one, but life re-wrote that one for me instead! lol

9:15 AM  
Blogger Angela said...

Thanks for the reminder, Crystal! I used to dream journal all the time using Eric Maisel's technique before I even knew it existed! I didn't use it for stories; I used it for questions I had about life. I would write the question down and then dream on it with a journal, pen, and a flashlight on my nightstand. But I really like your idea of using it for those recurring dreams. :)

9:45 AM  
Blogger Crystal Otto said...

You'll have to let me know if it works for your recurring dreams Angela - I was incredibly relieved when I could move forward. I'm curious if it will work for others. Dream on!

10:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad to know about Women on Writing. Thanks for sharing.

10:31 AM  
Blogger Crystal Otto said...

Glad to share - thanks!

2:37 PM  
Blogger LuAnn Schindler said...

About five years ago, I bought a "dream journal" that I keep close and when I wake up, I fill it out. You find a lot of patterns when you reread it. At least I do.

Dream Journal from Journals Unlimited - "Write It Down" series

1:30 PM  
Blogger Crystal Otto said...

LuAnn - you bring up a good point. I probably don't look at my dream journal as often as I should ... but I bet there are a lot of patters. Thank you for bringing this up, now I have a plan to pick up my journal from last year this time and see if the patterns are related to time of year and such (which for me, they likely are).

7:26 PM  

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