by Kristin Nador/@KristinNador
Do you ever wonder where great story ideas come from?
Some writers say they get ideas from their everyday life. Some rely on their ‘muse’ to inspire them. Others have had their writing ideas bubbling around in their grey matter for years.
Then there are our dreams.
The playground of our subconscious, dreams can be a fertile ground for writing ideas.
Some now-famous books that had their genesis in dreams include:
- The Twilight Series by Stephanie Meyer
- The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
- Misery by Stephen King, who dreamed the basis of the story while asleep on a plane
This month I had the pleasure of meeting novelist and screenwriter Delia Ephron. She spoke at a literary event here in Tulsa, then signed books afterwards. She was charming and insightful, and after telling her at the book table I was a yet-to-be published writer, enthusiastically supportive.
She shared in her talk how her latest novel The Lion Is In came about. Delia dreamed the story, even details of its setting in North Carolina, having never been there. Later, after her book was published, she went to North Carolina, and found certain spots she wrote about that appeared EXACTLY as she had pictured them in her dream. Eerie coincidence, or a gift of writing ‘sparks’ from the universe?
A statement Delia made in her talk resonated with me.
“If you’re a writer, all you really have is process, the rest is out of your control.” – Delia Ephron
Sometimes I think as writers we worry about all those things that are out of our control (publishing, agents, rejections, sales, etc.) to the detriment of our creativity.
We need to keep the fear monsters at bay and stay open to those writing ‘sparks’, wherever they might appear. Be open to the process.
Writers are natural observers. We stand outside the circle, photographing life in our minds, attempting to make sense of it, turning it over and over in our hands like a smooth rock discovered in a stream. Be present in all the forms process may take. That includes our dreams.
How can we make sure we don’t miss a ‘spark’ that comes floating through our dream world?
- Be intentional about remembering your dreams. Think about the fact you want to remember your dreams, and even speak the words out loud: “I will remember any dreams I have tonight.” Sounds silly but saying to ourselves what we want to accomplish is a strong motivator for any goal we might have.
- Wake up slowly whenever possible. Take time for the dream world to penetrate into our consciousness.
- Keep a notebook bedside to capture any imagery or dream ‘stories’ that come to mind when waking.
Keep your mind and heart open to writing ‘sparks’ in your dreams.
I’ve only had one dream that I wrote about thus far. It was story-worthy because when I was twelve years old I dreamed that my best friend in the sixth grade was murdered, and woke the next day to find that she indeed had been murdered that weekend.
Talk about eerie.