Thursday, July 16, 2009

Dreams of Inspiration

“Dreaming is an act of pure imagination, attesting in all men a creative power, which if it were available in waking, would make every man a Dante or Shakespeare.” -H.F. Hedge

A dream was the inspiration for The Ride. However, when I began writing the story, it took a very different direction from my nighttime vision. About the only thing my dream and the finished book had in common was a backyard rollercoaster. (I know, an amusement park ride in the backyard sounds strange but it isn’t. Google backyard roller coasters if you don’t believe me!)

Anyway, back to the topic—dreams. Evidently dreaming and writing goes hand in hand as I discovered in a couple of posts by Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen, How Dreaming at Night Inspires Famous Writers and Published Authors on the Dreaming and Writing Process.
The information for the blogs came from the book called Writers Dreaming: William Styron, Anne Rice, Stephen King, and 23 Other Writers Talk About Their Dreams and the Creative Process by Naomi Epel. I haven’t read this book, but I plan to look for it next time I visit the library.

According the posts, Stephen King added one of his own dreams to his book It, without changing anything about the dream.

Sue Grafton and Maurice Sendak say that dreams only affect their work in the emotional sense.

Several writers including Stephen King, Anne Rice and Amy Tan mention a dream-like state while writing.

Be sure to visit both posts if you’d like to read the direct quotes from these authors and others. I found them quite interesting.

From Twelve Famous Dreams, I learned that Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, and Misery by Stephen King were all inspired by dreams.

I really recommend the article for details about the dreams mentioned above as well as for other interesting information, such as a dream that led to a Nobel Prize in medicine; how Paul McCartney dreamed the tune to Yesterday; and, how Lincoln dreamed of his assassination.

Do you remember your dreams? Do dreams ever inspire your writing? If you’re not a writer, do dreams affect your actions in any way?

Thanks for stopping by.

Tags: H.F. Hedge, dreams, The Ride, Shakespeare, Dante, Stephen King, Amy Tan, Anne Rice, Shelley,R.L. Stevenson,


L. Diane Wolfe said...

Years ago I had a dream about a young couple in high school. The only thing I really remember is that the girl was a swimmer.
That in turn became a story about Lori and Jason, and Lori's quest to swim in the Olympics, and it spawned my entire five-book YA series, The Circle of Friends.

I believe dreams are an excellent resource for story ideas! Dreams can be so vivid and often possess strong emotions. They can spark an idea that leads us in a whole new direction.

And I've seen several backyard roller coasters! I am a coaster junkie, and to me, one in my own backyard would be a dream come true!

L. Diane Wolfe

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

My dreams are really boring. :) Always a mish-mash of anxious thoughts.

Gosh, if Stephen King dreams stuff worthy of a scary book like 'It,' I'm glad I'm not him! Nightmares...

Mystery Writing is Murder

Karen Walker said...

Most of the time, I don't remember my dreams, but every so often I have dreamt entire movies.

kathy said...

A dream inspired the opening scene in my book, but everything after that came out of my imagination.

Marvin D Wilson said...

I sometimes have vivid dreams in full technicolor. Sometimes when I'm in the midst of writing a book my characters will appear in them and I get story line ideas. Way cool.

The Old silly

Helen Ginger said...

Lately, I've not been remembering my dreams, except on a rare occasion. But I went through a period when writing a book that I dreamed about the characters and those dreams ended up in the manuscript pretty much as I dreamed them.

Straight From Hel

Anonymous said...

I don't write very well in a dream-like state, but I do sleep pretty well in one. Flashbacks are also a good source for writing. I think these are waking dreams.

Steve Tremp

Anonymous said...

"Young men dream of things to come;
old men dream of things that have been............." When you reach your late 60's you start realizing that quote by your father, 40 years ago, really did make sense.

Laurie PK said...

Thanks for mentioning my posts about writers dreaming, Jane -- I'm honored!

On a radio talk show, I recently heard a dream expert say that we are our truest selves when we dream. That is, our most authentic personalities shine in our dreams -- and we're not always pretty.

Last night, I dreamed that I snuck onto the water taxi because it was full and I really wanted to go home (I live on an island, and it can be hard to cross the Big Water to get home!). I was a stowaway, dreading the minute I'd have to confess my "sin." Luckily, I woke up before we docked!

I look forward to reading more of your work, Jane.

All best,

Nancy J. Parra said...

Dreams can be a great way of putting a story together. Thanks for this thoughtful post!

Cara Lopez Lee said...

While none of my dreams have directly inspired my writing, I've often shot awake in the middle of the night with a perfect line, or the solution to a plot problem. I usually jump up, run to my computer and type it in before I forget.

Sometimes I fear that, when I review these midnight revelations in the morning, they'll read like nonsense. But they usually make even more sense in the light of day.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Thank you all for your comments. Wow, Diane - one dream spawning 5 books, that's incredible. I want one of those dreams!

Elizabeth - I have boring dreams most of the time, I think that's why my Stephen King style dreams are so memorable to me.

So Karen, are you working on a screenplay from any of those whole movie dreams?

Kathy, that opening scene is so important, it's nice to have a dream jumpstart it.

Marvin, I don't think I've ever had one of my characters visit in a dream, but you're right - that would be way cool.

Helen, it sounds like you and Stephen King may have something in common as he used a dream just as he dreamed it, too.

I agree, Stephen. I don't think I function too well in a dream like stage either.

Anonymous - that quote is so true.

Laurie, I enjoyed your blog and will be back again. I'm worried about what some of my dreams say about me now! LOL Glad they didn't catch you sneaking onto the water taxi!

That's true, Nancy. It helps when the dream makes sense though and not all of mine do!

Cara, you're lucky, most of my middle of the night notes make no sense the following morning.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I have a lot of bizarre dreams, nightmares too, but must jot down notes as soon as I wake up if I want to retain anything. Only one novel started with one of my dreams...unpublished, I might add.

Alexis Grant said...

Sometimes I remember an important detail that has to be included in my book, or come up with the lede for my story while I'm sleeping. It's not a dream, really, but I'm happy it happens!

thebookaddict said...

I have had several dreams that would make great stories or at least parts of stories. However, I hardly ever remember to write them down when I wake up. I'm working on getting better about this. If I don't write it down as soon as I wake up, it's out of my head! There are a couple that I've had more than once. What is it they say about recurring dreams? I will definitely be looking for the book Writers Dreaming. You have inspired me to be more fastidious when it comes to recording my dreams...thanks!

Jane's Ride - Novelist Jane Kennedy Sutton's journey through the ups and downs of the writing, publishing and marketing world