Some successful writers believe that dreaming at night is the heart and soul of good writing – while others can’t remember their dreams at all! Here’s a roundup of how dreams inspire some famous writers…and a dreamy question for you, fellow scribes.
First, a quip from the great writer Isabel Allende:
“You write a book and it’s like putting a message in a bottle and throwing it into the ocean,” says Allende in Writers Dreaming. “You don’t know if it will ever reach any shore. And sometimes it falls in the hands of the right person.”
And it’s not just books! Your “message in a bottle” can be an article, blog post, comment on a blog post, or even a Tweet. Writers can send – and receive – messages all the time. (Of course, the downside is message overload!)
The following excerpts about how dreaming at night inspires famous writers are from the wonderful book Writers Dreaming: William Styron, Anne Rice, Stephen King, and 23 Other Writers Talk About Their Dreams and the Creative Process by Naomi Epel…
How Dreaming at Night Inspires Famous Writers
Maya Angelou on dreaming and writing: “I do believe dreams have a function,” says Angelou in Writers Dreaming. “I don’t see anything that has no function, not anything that has been created. I may not understand its function or be able to even use it, make it utile, but I believe it has a reason. The brain is so strange and wondrous in its mystery. I think it creates a number of things for itself – it creates launching pads and resting places – and it lets steam off and it reworks itself.”
Sue Grafton on dreaming and writing: “I have never seen any particular connection between the circumstances of my life and the dreams themselves,” says Grafton in Writers Dreaming. “I do believe that often our dreams carry our emotional states, so that you can look at a dream in terms of its overriding emotion…but I have not been able to see any direct connection between events.”
Stephen King on dreaming and writing: “Every now and then dreams come in handy,” says King in Writers Dreaming. “When I was working on It – which was this really long book – a dream made a difference….I just took the dream as it was and put it in the book. Dropped it in. I didn’t change anything.”
Maurice Sendak on dreaming and writing: “Dreams don’t ever directly influence my work in terms of plot, movement, or even idea. Never,” says Sendak in Writers Dreaming. “What dreams do is raise the emotional level of what I’m doing at the moment. They add color or counterpoint to the work, acting as an almost symphonic accompaniment to what I’m doing.”
Amy Tan on dreaming and writing: “The kind of imagination I use in writing, when I try to lose control of consciousness, works very much like dreams,” says Tan in Writers Dreaming. “The subconscious takes over and it’s fun. I discover things I could never pull up if I were really trying to. When I get into a dream world I can create fiction by going down surprising pathways.”
There are many more stories of how dreaming at night inspires famous writers; if you’re interested in reading more, I’m happy to post another article like this in a week or two. Just let me know below!
Is your progress or success as a writer affected by your dreams? I remember my dreams almost every night and I often talk and walk in my sleep. Just last night, I saw a nest of snakes on the ceiling above our bed – and two were slithering down to me. I leapt out of bed and ran, not waking up until I was halfway down the hallway. I don’t know if I’ll ever write about that nest of snakes…but it’s there, in my subconscious, waiting to be used…
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Do you dream at night – and does it inspire your writing?