If you enjoy writing, why not try writing a story based on one of your dreams?
It's easy once you get the hang of it and you'll certainly never be short of ideas. Dreams are a fantastic resource for
creativity, whether you're a writer, an artist, a musician, a sculptor or a scientist. Throughout history, our dreaming life
has provided the spark of genius that has helped humankind to progress up the evolutionary ladder. Dreams have
produced awe-inspiring paintings such as those by William Blake and Salvado Dali, popular music such as that written
by John Lennon and Billy Joel, and been responsible for life-changing scientific break-throughs such as those from
Kekule (benzene structure) and Mendeleyev (Periodic Table). Many great authors throughout history have used their
dreams to provide inspiration and ideas for their writing; Enid Blyton's Famous Five adventures were inspired by her
dreaming life; S. T. Coleridge produced his famous poem Kubla Khan in this way - although he was interrupted whilst
writing down the dream and only managed to get the first part written, he struggled for months afterwards to complete it.
Robert Louis Stevenson, William Blake, Charlotte Bronte, Mark Twain, Edgar Alan Poe and Graham Greene, to mention
but a few, all acknowledged the role their dreams played in the work they produced. The famous people who have used
their dreams in this way, were/are no different to you and me. We all have a natural talent for creating unique work just
like them. Believe it.
Believe in yourself.
Your subconscious is bursting with creative and innovative ideas; it is the writer, producer and director of some highly
original stories. Dreams are initiated by our emotional response to all of life's problems. They deal with our fears and our
passions and highlight the way in which we interact with and react to other people. Isn't this what successful writing is all
about? The great novels of our time take real-life human situations and explore the full depth of the emotional conflicts
involved, striving to resolve those conflicts in a way that satisfies the reader. A good story is one that the reader can
identify with. Dreams are about the stuff of life, they speak of problems and aspirations that are common to the whole
human race. Dream images are powerful because they speak with the language of the Universal unconscious - in
symbols. Of course, good story writing can be learned, writing is a craft that can be improved with practice. Ideas, on the
other hand, must be original if they are to capture the reader's imagination. Your subconscious can provide you with
enough ideas to keep you writing for evermore. Ideas that are based on real-life situations because they reflect your
real-life situation - all you have to do is explore the dream and then, using your writing skills, transform them into literary
Most dreams can provide creative ideas for poetry, stories or novels but it is best to choose a dream that has had some
impact on you. What Jung used to call "big" archetypal dreams are especially suitable but sadly these dreams don't
come along that often. This type of dream always contains major revelations that are usually the result of many years of
contemplation (whether consciously or subconsciously). They often deal with our adaptation to life situations which all
human beings must face, (e.g. puberty, cutting parental ties, love, ageing and death), and usually dramatically alter
some part of our belief system. They usually also contain a great deal of wisdom and are easily recognisable because
they have an uncanny, fascinating and awesome quality which is very difficult to subject to analysis. Sometimes they
use mythical or fairy tale characters to tell their story and these can be used to script a modern fairy tale or pantomime.
Working on your dreams to produce an inspired, unique piece of writing also offers a wonderful opportunity to get to
understand yourself a little bit better.
If you've no big dreams to work on, any clear image or symbol from even a fleeting dream can provide ideas and
inspiration. In this case it's important to expand and explore the image, perhaps try painting it first and then try
relaxation/visualisation techniques to get back into the dream and re-experience it in all its glory. If you need to research
a symbol or character in your dream before you start, the Internet is an excellent resource for exploration and
No matter what sort of dream you decide to use, try and ensure that when you start to write you are able to identify,
within yourself, where the main emotion lies and go with that. Writing must have passion, and to have passion it must
come from the heart.
Where do I start?
There are various ways of approaching the use of dreams as a creative resource and many original techniques and
ideas are contained in my book 'Working With Dreams'. Usually, but not always, you'll need to gather more information -
this is known as amplification of the dream or any dream images that seem to be important. It's a good place to start -
make a list of all the images/symbols in the dream that have an energy about them, positive or negative. Amplify them to
clarify their meaning and expand on the imagery. Dream Dictionaries are useful for this task as they can lead you to
explore aspects that you perhaps would not have considered. It's also useful to identify the theme of the dream. Doing
this should provide you with ideas for expanding it, especially if it turns out to be one of the archetypal or universal
themes. Identify any conflicts within the dream; either apparent or implied. It is the conflicts that will provide the meat of
your story. Rather than accepting the conflict at face value, look for the underlying problem and the energy that drives it.
So, for instance, if the dream features a disagreement, it's not what is being disagreed about that's important, it's WHY
the disagreement occurs; what are the underlying motives involved? In addition you could amplify the dream characters
by writing biographical sketches of them, whether these characters are known to you or not. May be the dream makes
mention of a specific time period or an actual historical event. Again, these should be amplified by doing some
background research. If you find creative visualisation easy, then one of the best methods to use for extra material is a
Dream Re-entry, (this is described in detail in my book 'Working The Day Shift'). This method uses Shamanic journeying
techniques to go back into the dream and see what unfolds. The dream may take on a completely different aspect, it
may lead you into another "dream" or introduce you to new characters who you can interact with and ask questions of.
This method is especially useful if you're finding it hard to get the flow going.
After you've gathered all the information you need, begin writing immediately. Once you start to write, let yourself go,
without worrying about grammar or punctuation. Just get the flow going and don't stop until the ideas dry up. If you are
working from a full dream story, try and keep the dream in your mind as you write but don't feel you have to stick to it
rigorously, be flexible. If you feel you've gone off at a tangent, providing the words are still flowing, what does it matter?
Quite often, if this happens, it's probable that you have tapped into the storehouse of the unconscious in the place
where the dream originated. This was Freud's belief and he used free association of ideas to uncover the underlying
experiences or emotions that gave rise to the dream. For instance, an image of a beautiful, prancing horse on a
conscious level may seem to be a very positive image. As your story progresses it may lead you into some conflict or
trauma concerning the horse, perhaps the rider is unseated or may be the horse is killed in battle. If exploration of the
symbol progresses to such negative images, it could be that the original symbol, (in this case the horse), represents a
deep-seated emotion that your conscious mind has chosen to ignore or repress. In this way, writing a story can be very
therapeutic, even carthartic. You may find that the characters of the dream start to take on a role that seems to be
independent of you by doing and saying unexpected things. If this happens, that's great - all you have to do is watch,
listen and WRITE. Many great writers have explained their creativity in similar ways to this. Once you acknowledge that
your dream characters have a reality of their own, they will often develop their own energy.
|Pregnant with Possibilities
Use the ideas in your
dreams to write fiction
Always try and identify where your energy is and draw it out as you write. All dreams deal with issues that are important
to us; they are NEVER superficial; they are NEVER irrelevant. They ALWAYS come in the service of health and
wholeness; and almost ALWAYS address issues that need resolving or are in the process of being resolved. So,
whether you are simply analysing your dreams or using them to write fiction, it's important that you recognise the
underlying emotion. Sometimes you need to dig deep to discover it, but as you begin to write you will feel an emotion
stirring. Go with it. Don't be afraid. Sometimes you'll get angry, sometimes you'll cry, sometimes you'll laugh. You can't
write compelling fiction unless you elicit emotion from your reader and you can only do that if you're writing from direct
experience. Some of the best stories were written in a rainstorm of tears.