Monday, April 30, 2012

Z is for Zzzz benefits


Anyone else feel the need to take a snooze after finally making it to the end of the A-Z challenge? Whew! Twenty six letters never seemed like quite so many. Well.... except for maybe in third grade when they were teaching cursive handwriting. 

But this post isn't about that. It's about the benefits of ZZZZZZZZZZzzz...

No, I'm not talking about the kind of benefits like the fact that your brain works better when you call it a night early enough to get the sleep you need before that way-too-early alarm (or that early-bird child) sounds. Or the benefit where if you SKIP several hours of sleep, you can get in several hours of prime writing time. :)

Photo Credit Link: Whisperfall at Deviant Art
I'm talking about the benefits of dreams.

How they can influence you. Inspire you. Possibly even make you think that your subconscious is WAY more crazy than your conscious is. I read a post a couple of weeks ago at The Secret Archives of the Alliterati by Alliterati K. Marie Criddle about how dreams affect her writing, and I've gotta admit-- it fascinates me!

I've heard a lot of people say that they go to bed thinking about their next scene, and their brain works on it all night. Sometimes they figure it out just as they're drifting off to sleep, sometimes they wake up in the middle of the night with the solution, and sometimes they just wake up the next morning with everything all worked out.

Is this how it works for you? I've got to admit-- I'm a little envious. I posted once about my theory on super powers, and told what mine is. You see, my super power is that I can fall asleep in under two minutes. Sometimes, it's under 30 seconds. And then I seriously don't move an inch-- not even to roll over or even attempt to be a cover hog-- until the alarm goes off. I actually really love my super power. It's a mighty powerful one. BUT, like every super power, there is a downside. My downside is that I can't turn it off! I can't lay in bed and ponder my story without falling asleep a few seconds into it. Sigh. Yes, there are a million worse things in the world. Like insomnia. (Recently, I took some medicine, and the warning said it could cause insomnia. I said YES!! I'll be able to plot in the middle of the night! Yeah.... It turns out insomnia isn't as great as I thought it'd be. Although I do credit some cold medicine-induced imsomnia for me finding my MC's voice in my WIP a couple of years ago. That girl talked to me for hours. So I guess sometimes it can be cool. But more than one night in a row? Not so much.)

So I guess the point is, when we stop running around like a crazy person and finally relax, our brains can do some pretty amazing things. Do you ever remember your dreams? Do they ever influence your writing? Have you ever magically figured something out during the night? Come on, share! I need to live vicariously here.

45 comments:

Joshua said...

Some of my best ideas come from dreams. Well...when I have dreams.

Tasha Seegmiller said...

I'm a big time dreamer - plots, characters, the bizarre, answers to prayers...all show up in my dreams.

Kyra Lennon said...

It's very rare for me to have a great idea in the middle of the night - I wish my mind worked that way!

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I tend to remember the feeling I had in the dream, rather than the dream itself. I wake up scared, etc and can't say why exactly, but I know it had to do with a crazy dream. :)

Chris Fries said...

Awesome post! I try to remember my dreams, but it never seems to work out -- they usually fade too quickly.

Congratulations on making it through the A-to-Z!!!

JeffO said...

I have had some very interesting and disturbing dreams, but never anything I felt could use. Actually, the one I really wanted to remember to write about slipped away because I had no book and pen handy when I woke up, dang it.

Iain said...

I rarely remember my dreams. Of the half a dozen that I do remember, they stay with me like I was really there (even after several years!)
Three of the dreams came true/were accurate which was freaky to say the least, and I also dreamt the first book I ever wrote. From start to finish.

Carrie-Anne said...

A couple of things actually came back to me in dreams in the weeks and days leading up to finally taking my contemporary historical Bildungsroman out of its 16.5-year hiatus and starting again from scratch and memory. The character Sarah, the girls' surrogate mother and exploited live-in nanny and servant, also came back to me in a dream. Once you start thinking on something, sometimes your subconscious brings it back to you when you just relax and don't think.

Annalisa Crawford said...

I love sleeping!

I once woke up after dreaming the first paragraph of a short story repeating itself over and over. I wrote it down, finished the story, sent it off without any revision and it was accepted!!!

I must say, though, that has NEVER HAPPENED AGAIN, just to clarify that I'm not the luckiest writer in the world :-)

Madeleine Maddocks said...

Great post. I will check out the link.
Yes some dreams are so vivid you feel as though you've touched and tasted them.

Julie Daines said...

The problem with my dreams is that they are so weird and non-sequential in their plots that I can never use them as ideas for stories. Lying awake in bed trying to sleep is, as you say, a good time to think about writing.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Count your blessings that you're young yet, Peggy. It's not so easy once you get a little older. lol

Jenny Morris said...

I work out scene after I fall asleep. That's why I try to think about them as I drift off.

Adrienne said...

I try not to think about my stories before I sleep because then I would lie awake all night! I usually have very vivid dreams, most of which I remember-except if I wake up too suddenly. But none of them have really influenced my writing.

S.P. Bowers said...

wow, what would it be like to get a full nights sleep without waking up all the time?

I remember my dreams often three or four a night (I wake up a lot) but they never influence my writing. I get my best ideas when my mind is relaxing, when I'm in the shower, taking a walk, weeding the flowerbeds. That's when my mind is open to ideas but not taken up by the crazies that are my dreams.

SharleneT said...

Hello,again, Fellow Challenger, from #398 - aka Rockin'Chair Reflections! I'm a great believer in resolving problems through dreams. It's important to know your own symbols and, usually, the first thought you have about what your dream meant is the what it really is -- before you second guess yourself!

Nicole said...

I'm one of those that puts my dreams to work for me...for inspiration or for figuring out how to solve a tricky plothole. I really love dreaming that way!

Elodie said...

Like you, I have the magical power to fall asleep very quickly :D My husband says I can be talking in the car, turn around and pff I am asleep :D
I don´t remember my dreams very often though, so I usually cannot use it for writing. What I do use though is a good night sleep to recharge my writing batteries. Does that count? :D By the way, I really LOVED your A to Z posts, Peggy!

Taffy said...

I'm so envious of your super power! I'm such a light sleeper. Now I feel really bad about last Storymakers! You did not sleep well.

My ideas usually come late, late at night when I'm finally drifting off. I can write two or three chapters that way.

Libby said...

My dreams don't typically do much for my writing, except for one short story. But they do keep me entertained!

Jeff King said...

the whole reason I began this journey of writing, came from a dream. i often ponder my story before falling asleep, the magical ideas come between that gap of almost being asleep... you know the gray area that you can contemplate fanciful ideas, in a direct, but subconscious way.

So, to keep it short... only my first book derived from a dream. The rest come from the semi-conscience mind before sleep.
Glad to see ya still posting...

The Golden Eagle said...

I wish I had your superpower! I'm not prone to staying up during the night, but there are still times when I just lie there in vain. :P

I usually remember my dreams, and have worked on a couple stories that came from them. I've never finished a novel that started from a dream, though.


The Eagle's Aerial Perspective

Alleged Author said...

Dreams can definitely wield a powerful influence. Now if only I could remember mine!

Imogen said...

I haven't yet worked out how to fit replicating pet cats into a story yet. No, I think I'm stuck with the age old way of hard work to sort out my problems.

Cindy Dwyer said...

We made it! I wanted to catch some Z's tonight but first I want to try to visit all my favorite blogs from the challenge.

Well done!

I think rest is crucial to creativity - as soon as I get in the car or shower anywhere away from my computer I bubble over with ideas.

Hannah Hounshell said...

I'm a night-bird for the most part, and tend to get ideas just as I'm drifting off to sleep. I've also gotten ideas for new books from dreams I've had just before I woke up. Other times I've woken up in the middle of the night because I just have got to write down this bit or that scene.

After the first few times of waking up my husband while searching for something I could use to scribble stuff down, I started keeping a note book and pen beside the bed. There is just enough light coming from the street lamp outside my window to write by.

These days I can jolt stuff down when it hits me without waking anybody. The trick is being able to read it in the morning when it's time to get to work, lol.

Nancy Thompson said...

I'm not a great sleeper, which gives me plenty of time to work things through before I fall asleep. But even stranger, I still work things out even IN my sleep. When I'm in the middle of writing, I can't turn it off. Not very restful, but it's great for production.

Carrie Butler said...

You bet! I'm always fumbling around at four in the morning, trying to find something to write a note on. The downside? I have trouble interpreting it the next morning! LOL

Nicole Mc said...

Under two minutes?!? Crazy!! :) What did you do when your kids were babies?! LOL I'm a pretty heavy sleeper which seems to offend my husband who is not. I'm always telling him, "it's not my fault I don't hear the dog crying at night?". Haha

Kelley Lynn said...

I love sleeping! And like you, I'm really darn good at it.

BUT... I NEVER dream. Ever. Or never remember my dreams. So I can't get any ideas from there.

Daydreaming though... I've got that down ;)

Leigh Covington said...

I am a total insomniac so I am VERY jealous of your super power. I wish I could turn my brain off and sleep. It doesn't happen. Thank heaven for ambien! lol. Although sometimes it comes in handy - just not the next day when I'm super tired cause I couldn't sleep in. :) I do have some crazy dreams when I finally do get to sleep though!

Z said...

I'm a person who has always dreamed vividly and can remember ridiculous details about my dreams days after I've had them. Sometimes that's a really, really good thing (like when dreams show me how to organize that tricky space in my house, or when they have something to do with a story or a project for school). Sometimes, when the dream is scary, remembering the dream later causes insomnia, because I don't want to go back to sleep and risk falling into the same dream (when I have nightmares, they're usually a version of three recurrent nightmares I've had my whole life. Awful).

So yes, dreaming helps me write. I am jealous of your superpower though. To be able to fall asleep that quickly would be a dream (haha).

Carissa Taylor said...

So funny, we share the same super-power! My husband has counted the seconds to non-responsiveness, and I think my record is currently about 27 - ha!

I do remember my dreams, but almost all of my best story ideas/breakthroughs come one of two places: while doing the dishes or on the elliptical machine!

Love your blog, new follower!

Laura Pauling said...

Not overnight dreams but if I'm really stumped, I'll take a short nap and sometimes it helps my brain work behind the scenes but not really a dream per se. Nothing worse than sitting at a blank screen forcing your brain to come up with an answer!

And yes that is a super power to fall asleep so quickly!

Jay Noel said...

In the deeper REM sleep stage, our brains do take things that are bothering us or trying to figure out and kinda works it out, although in symbolic forms.

One study had participants do this cool downhill ski game for a couple hours, and they had problems completing the course on a particular turn or whatever.

They then went to sleep. And when they awoke, they went back to the game and all scored HIGHER the second go-around.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hi, Peggy,

Yes, I do remember some of my dreams... Actually my second novel was based on a dream I had had about a blind gardener... interesting stuff.

Glad we all made it through the challenge!

David P. King said...

Would you believe me if I told you I had a dream where my character told me to hurry up and finish their story? Had to take a month off blogging just to get that done. :)

Elana Johnson said...

I have never magically figured anything out during the night. I'm so exhausted when I go to bed, that my brain spends all its time reorganizing the information I've taken in that day.

My best time is right after I wake up in the morning. I love lying in bed, thinking about my story. The words just come. But not in a dream. Because my mind is unburdened before I get up...

Emily R. King said...

I keep a dream journal beside my bed. Some of what I recall is garbage, but some of it is golden. It's not always immediately clear which is which.

Congrats on completing the A to Z Challenge!

Tracy Bermeo (A2Z Mommy) said...

My head hits the pillow and I"m out for the night. I dream, but nothing to inspire writing, just yet. Glad to have made it through the A to Z, although I wish I had had more time to read and visit other blogs.
A2ZMommy and What’s In Between

E.D. said...

I'm like you - asleep before my head hits the pillow. I guess that is our payoff for running around nonstop all day. But it also means I am super tired when I go to bed and hardly ever dream...

Kim said...

Sorry to disappoint, but my dreams don't work that way. However, I have been told my superpower is that I think too much! :-)

Angela Cothran said...

I want your super power! I have terrible insomnia!!! But I do get a lot done at night when it is quiet :)

Nas Dean said...

I read in one writing craft book that we shall always have a pen and notebook next to the bed at night to jot down dreams or ideas that hit in the night.

J. C. Phalene said...

I rarely remember all of my dreams. But sometimes after I wake, part of the dream stays with me. Usually as an image or a feeling.

My dreams definitely influence my writing. Often after I've finished working on something I'll read it through and think: Where did that come from?

The answer, I believe, is that our stories (or at least elements of them) come from the same place as our dreams: our subconscious or deeper conscious. And through our writing we tap into this, thereby releasing and revealing deeply held feelings, fears or desires, we’re not consciously aware of. Spooky hey? But healthy too, I think.

I keep scraps of paper and a pen next to my bed so I can jot down anything I’m struck by in my sleep. (Hopefully nothing that will leave a bruise.) When I’m working on a novel I get some of my best inspiration and ideas for plot and character development this way.

I read somewhere that life is a dream within a dream, maybe that’s why our dreams resonate so much.

Now I’m off to bed. (-;