Monday, July 18, 2011

Dream Harvesting: A How To

I've talked a lot on here about how I take a lot of my book ideas straight from dreamland. The dreams I have are vivid, and they always leave a lingering impression on me, even if I can't remember any of the specifics.

I'm sure some of you out there have been like me and have had a wonderful dream only to have it leave your mind by the time you try to write it down. Well, I wanted to use today's blog post to talk about some tips on how to get your dreams to paper so that you can use all that great material in your own writing.

1. If you want to make your dreams echo something you're currently working on--or, better yet, if you have a vague idea about what you want to write about but you know you need to explore it more, try concentrated thinking before you fall asleep. For the last 20 minutes or so before you officially conk out, try to solely think about the element you want to include in your book or your current WIP. This will make your dreams more likely to be in some way or another focused on what you'd like.

2. When you first wake up, use the tried and true method of having paper and a pen IMMEDIATELY available to you by your bedside. This is extremely important because dreams are fleeting, and your brain, from the moment you wake up, is practically re-writing what you remember of the dream you just had. That's not too horrible, but regardless of how much you self-edit your dream subconsciously, the most important part is to write EVERYTHING down that you can remember. Get these things down (listed in order of importance):
            a. Actions: Who did what and why
            b. Setting: this will probably be the most original part of your dream, and can be extremely helpful to you in your writing process.
            c. Feelings/vibe: make yourself describe the mood of your dream. This may help jar your memories of a and b.

3. Process your notes. What you've just written down may seem like gibberish when you read it over. In this step, fill in the gaps you've just made, elaborate on what you remember, and embellish what you've already written. That's the fun of the dream harvest process. The dream is the starting point. Keep your dream notes in tact and write off of them in this step, brainstorming real story lines from the little bits and pieces you've remembered. Where can you take these actions, settings, and vibes with a narrative? What cool ideas would this spark?

This is pretty much exactly my process when I conduct my own dream harvest. Do you do something similar/completely different? Let me know what works for you in the comments, and if you haven't tried it, I am the first to say that I think that you should!

Now to leave you with a song to write by, "Save You" by Kelly Clarkson. So pretty. It's dark and slow, and one of my favorites by her. 


  1. Funny enough, I wrote a whole novel based on a dream, but I didn't put a word on paper until almost two weeks after I had that dream. I was almost afraid I was making a mountain out of a molehill... but that dream served me well for inspiration. Thanks for the tips!

  2. All I can say is...

    I DO THAT TOO!!! Omg. Great minds think alike, no? :P But yes, that moment just when you're dozing off is crucial. Thanks for sharing! :)

  3. I always keep my phone or a notebook by my bed -- quick access. I have crazy dreams, and they usually end up being great for writing ideas.

    One thing I try to do when I have one of Those Dreams is not wake up too quickly. If I let myself wake slowly and my brain percolate for a few minutes, the idea seems to solidify more. Great post!

  4. Gina: That's awesome. I love hearing about how they've worked out. Also, I always write them down, but sometimes I'll look at them right after and think "wait, that's not cool outside of my head..." lol

    Lyn: Completely agree about last minute importance. Glad I'm not alone, and thanks :)

    Jenna: GREAT tip. I do the same thing, but I forgot to mention that. It definitely works. Thanks for adding it!