View Full Version : Do The Dreaming Habits of Writers Subconsciously Change?

Travis J. Smith
12-28-2008, 05:13 AM
This is an odd question, but there is some sense to it, I swear. :D

We lived in our old house up until the halfway point of first grade and my dreams back then were very personal. In one instance, the dream began outside our home. Following that, my dad's truck pulled up and all of us (mom, two sisters and myself) hid behind the bushes. The truck door opened to show my dad lying motionless and seemingly dead at the hands of the robot driving the truck. Needless to say, this was a rather personal dream and I'd say it was a good case for dreams telling you something about yourself.

Since then, it seems like my dreams have become more and more abstracted and impersonal. Back then, I dreamt of my sister and I as tigers being chased by a hunter and it was painfully clear that the two of us were the tigers (though, if I recall, I had an omniscient rather than first person POV in it), but in my more recent dreams, although I actually embody a particular person in the dream, it's more along the lines of switching bodies with them and I don't feel like it's me in the slightest. In one instance I was the spitting image of Michael C. Hall (star of Dexter and Six Feet Under).

I feel it's an extension of the act of storytelling, because I feel like I'm spending my time asleep living stories. Most of these dreams are tailor made for story adaptations. Or, at the very least, for inclusion in a story. Often dreams will fill in a blank in a WIP perfectly. In one instance, I actually picked up pen and paper and started writing down an idea the dream had given me in the dream.

Possibly, writers simply have the act of writing so instilled in them that their creativity prospers even in their dreams.

Additionally, the more personal dreams I do have fade considerably faster than the others. Sure, I'll remember the familiar faces that cropped up, but, other than that, little else. Those personal dreams only pop up when I have something taxing my mind anymore. And more often than not, those personal dreams just seem to be stories played out with characters from my every day life.

Sorry. Just felt the need to get this rambling down and see if anyone has any thoughts.

12-28-2008, 05:27 AM
I don't even know whether I dream in color.

Far as I can remember, I've never dreamed about the events I was writing about at the time. Instead, my dreams tend to be anxiety or stress dreams, or else the sort of nonsense I assume is my subconscious getting rid of junk picked up during my waking hours. Sometimes people I know are in my dreams. Just as often I don't recognize anyone.

I seldom have nightmares, even though I write some pretty horrific stuff. And back when I was writing mostly romance, the only erotic dream I can remember was unintentionally hilarious and I woke up laughing. Literally.

I'm guessing this is the sort of thing that varies hugely from person to person but, even more, changes as we live our lives and grow older.

For instance, I haven't had that it's-exam-time-and-I-cut-class-all-year! anxiety dream in a couple of decades. But I quite often have the sort of dream where I'm somewhere initially familar, like someone's house or a mall, and it turns into a maze of unfamiliar and incredible hallways and stairways and oddities.

Which, I suppose, could be my subconscious's way of trying to locate the right path through whatever plot I happen to be struggling through as a writer ...

12-28-2008, 06:18 AM
Like hell.

The rare occasions that I do dream, my dreams are definitely influenced by things other than writing.

After a semester of stress and a week of butt-rape finals, last night I dreamt of doing homework.

I want to commit seppuku.

Phoebe H
12-28-2008, 12:06 PM
First of all, I am a lucid dreamer, and have been since I was about eight. That means that I always have some measure of control over my dreams.

Starting about ten or fifteen years ago, I started dreaming in drafts. What I mean be that is that in a single night, I would have the same dream three or four times in a row. Each time that I had the dream, I would have the ability to edit it as it went along. By the last time I would have the dream that night, it would be very strange and multi-layered, because I am simultaneously remembering each version of the dream that I had had that night (as one often does when reading edits).

Then starting about, oh, five years ago, I would have dreams where I would just go straight to the third draft -- essentially dreaming multiple versions of the dream simultaneously, all the while "knowing" which parts of those versions were original, and which were the revisions.

Dreaming like that, by the way, is exhausting.

Now, I was talking to a friend of mine about this once, and her dreams worked exactly the same way. She had also been a long-time lucid dreamer, and was also a writer. What she had noticed about the process was that when she started dreaming in this fashion was that it meant that it was time to start writing again. "It means the well is full," is how she put it.

12-28-2008, 12:38 PM
My dreams are never very clear, usually they're impossible to follow logically. I don't have lucid dreams, either. And my dreams are rarely about things that have happened during the day. Sometimes they're clearly related to stuff that I've seen, heard, or experienced at some point, but generally these dreams occur about a week or two after the real-life events that inspire them.
I have a slow subconscious, apparently.
I've always been disappointed with my dreaming habits. I don't dream very often, and my dreams are never very realistic or anything, and I usually have a hard time remembering much about them.
Your idea about writers having different dreaming habits is interesting. I think it makes sense, but like I just explained, my dreams are hard to analyze to see whether I think you're right. I don't really know what perspective they're from. I think some might be third-person (at least, a bird's-eye view of my situation) and some first-person and personal.

One thing that has always been a distinct part of my dreams is that I often find things that I've lost. Usually important things. So if I can't find my...well, recently it was my glasses. I couldn't find them and was all stressed over it, so I had one or more dreams in which I happened to find my glasses in some ordinary spot, in the middle of whatever interesting/weird happenings I was going through.
I can never remember where it is that dream-me finds the missing item, but I'm pretty sure it's always in places I've already looked. It's not as though my dreams tell me where to look, and I do, and I find what I was looking for. That'd be freaking cool.
Does anyone else have that 'finding things' thing happen to them in dreams?

12-28-2008, 01:24 PM
Dreaming like that, by the way, is exhausting.

I can imagine.


You want exhausting, try studying physics or statistics for 12 hours, taking a few final exams in a row, and then going home, passing out, and dreaming of doing physics and statistics homework for the rest of the night.

Someone dig my brains out with a rusty spoon.

Beach Bunny
12-28-2008, 03:19 PM
This is an interesting question. I'm not sure whether being able to dream lucidly is a function of being a writer or other creative person or not.

I have nightmares. There not as intense as they used to be and I don't want to write about them thankyouverymuch. There has been many a night that I have woken up asking myself "WTF was that about?!?"

If I have a particularly vivid nightmare or dream, then I will write it down and think about it. I discovered that when I dream I am working on something that is bothering me. The elements in the dream represent something. It's not always clear to me what that something is. Interestingly enough, I figured out whenever I have a nightmare about my ex-husband someone in my current life has done something that reminds me of him in a bad way. It's become an early warning detection system. :D

12-28-2008, 07:29 PM
I've been writing almost all my life, so I wouldn't notice any change. Perhaps there are relations between dreaming habits and such, but I couldn't say whether it's happened for me or not. For me, writing and dreaming are so intrinsic to who I am that...they just ARE. Simple as that.

I've written things down in dreams, gotten ideas in dreams, roleplayed other people or characters in dreams, switched POV in dreams, thought about writing in dreams just like I do in real life. (In a dream the other day I remember writing-related thoughts going through my head as I did things.) I've had very personal dreams, very impersonal dreams, very strange dreams and very normal dreams, very detailed dreams and very vague dreams. I've used dreams in my writing, and I've wanted to use some dreams in my writing but could never think of a way how. In my dreams I sometimes lose some of my real-life inhibitions (my extreme shyness and aversion to "dirt" are often lessened), but not always--in some dreams I'm just as shy and anxious as I am in reality. Sometimes I dream about things that have recently happened in real life--when I kept track of my dreams for a year I would often dream about the act of keeping track of dreams--but more often my dreams seem completely unrelated to what's going on. (It was over two months after 9/11 before I finally had a related dream.) I'm a prolific and imaginative writer but I'm not big on lucid dreams; I've had a few, but they were nothing spectacular and I'm not skilled at them--they just happen. I've "rewound" the action in dreams to do things over, though not lucidly. Some dreams I remember clearly, some I forget; there seems to be no correlation as to what kind of dreams I remember/forget more except in how quickly I take note of them. Perhaps there's a relation between how well I can describe/recall dreams and how well I can visualize things in my writing, but that's all I can think of.

So I guess what I'm saying is, I have no clue. :o Interesting post though.

12-30-2008, 07:46 PM
I can imagine.


You want exhausting, try studying physics or statistics for 12 hours, taking a few final exams in a row, and then going home, passing out, and dreaming of doing physics and statistics homework for the rest of the night.

Someone dig my brains out with a rusty spoon.

That happened to me a lot in middle school, and it's happening again now that I'm trying to do college aps. It's awful.

For a long long time, maybe a year, I was always my MC in my dreams. Which is weird because he's a dude and I'm not....

12-30-2008, 08:06 PM
I'm to the point that sometimes my dreams have commercials. So I add that to the flying, teleportation, phasing through walls, levitation, telekinesis, breathing water, washing in fire, talking to animals, being part animal, seeing paintings and stories I've done in the dreamtime, traveling to different times, being male, older, younger, fighting bad guys, being so pissed I literally rip peoples' heads off, and trying to take off my socks that keep appearing--think 1001 Hats of Bartholemew Cubbins by Dr Seuss. :}

01-02-2009, 07:11 AM
I'm probably going to get scoffed at but...
Ever since I was four I've had dreams...or "visions" as you could call them of things that had happened in the recent past, or would happen in the near future. The first time I had that happen was when I was four, and I dreamed that there were kids playing on train tracks and three of the kids were killed/injured. At first when I woke up--and settled down from it being scary--I thought it was just my imagination running away from me, because we were all told not to play anywhere near train tracks, or anything later. And then about a month later, one of the odd times I was allowed to watch the news, they announced that three kids had been killed playing by train tracks.

And it's happened ever since then, every three months or so. They haven't all been bad, some good. In the last year or so, I've been dreaming about lessons/lectures a good three days before they happen, so when the lesson actually happens in real life, I'm just sitting there, dumbfounded and I'm like "uhh didn't we already have this conversation?"

The only one dream/nightmare that truly scares me is the one I've been having at least once a week for the last six months. In it, my boyfriend dies in a car crash, and about every third time I have this nightmare, it gets more detailed. It's become so realistic, that I wake up bawling my eyes out, and it takes me a good hour and a half to realise that it didn't happen and he's still alive.

Other than that, my dreams usually make no sense at all, and I don't usually remember them for longer than oh I'd say five minutes.