Dreaming and the Creative Writing Process

The clock by my bed read 3:30 a.m. when I jerked awake. I fought to untangle my legs from the sheets while trying to clear the fog from my brain. Why did I wake up? I wondered. I shuffled into the kitchen to make a cup of hot tea and as I inhaled the fragrant steam, a story formed in my mind.

Grabbing a pen and notebook, I settled into my favorite comfy chair and watched the story appear on the paper. My hand was doing the writing, but the words flowed from an inner place in my mind that I didn’t realize was even there.

Most writers have experienced something similar. I wanted to know how the process works, so I did a bit of research. I discovered that dreaming is a known quantity in the creative writing process.

In her book, Writers Dreaming: Twenty-six Writers Talk About Their Dreams and the Creative Process, Naomi Epel says many “famous authors . . . all discuss the nature and significance that dreams play in their writing.” Dreaming and writing are not only a natural combination, but an effective one as well.

Many writers try to get into a semi-dream state in order to create. Carol Gift Page described this process in a class she taught at writer’s conferences.

Donald M. Murray, in his book, Write to Learn, asserts that writers don’t know what they know until they write it. He says the best way to write is to blurt an idea out onto the page no matter how tangled up or mangled it may appear. Then he instructs writers to begin to shape it into something beautiful using the tools of the craft.

My ideas seem to lurk in my subconscious mind waiting for the right moment to jump into my conscious stream of thought. Most often this happens while I am sitting in front of a computer, but sometimes it happens in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning.

Jesus Christ is the Creator creating through me. He creates the stories and I obey by writing them down. In Psalm 45:1 God says, “My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.” (NKJV) The dream state is when He is able to by-pass myself and my own thoughts to place His ideas into my imagination.

Isaiah 26:3 says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose imagination is stayed on Thee.” (RSV) When we allow Jesus Christ to harness our imaginations, we’ll have the ideas He gives us. Then, when we use our minds to focus on the details, the whole project is brought into subjection to Him and Jesus is glorified, which is the real reason for writing.

The next time I wake up with a story pushing for release, I’ll know where it came from. And I’ll rejoice that I am being used for the Father’s plan. God gives the inspiration, and he expects me to do the work of crafting it into good writing. Then he will work out his plan for the piece. I can trust him.

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Writing: Dreamers, Please Apply

Writers are dreamers. The two activities – dreaming and writing – work together. Of course, writers can be incredibly practical, churning out how-to manuals or crafting detailed textbooks. Writers can plan, strategize and develop logical plots within their stories. At their best, dreamers are innovators and so are writers. They are grounded in reality, even as they reach for what could be. Consider the following three characteristics of writers, and you’ll understand why dreamers need to apply for this job.


1. Idealistic – Even the cynical writer spewing a critique of society on the page is an idealist at heart. If you desire to express your ideas to change the world in some way, if you hope to educate or inspire your readers, if you think you have an insight to share, then you possess at least a touch of idealism.

When you hope to capture the attention of people with the force of your ideas without the benefit of the sound of your voice or the expression on your face, you must be a little idealistic or else you would not bother to try.

2. Futuristic – Writers look to the future even when they write about the past. Of course, science fiction writers take us to the future we have yet to create, often inspiring inventions once technology catches up with their imagination.

However, all writers reach into the future, crafting words to entertain and exhort readers years after the ink is dry on the page. Words can live on as text on the screens of tomorrow and as quotes on social media platforms not yet developed.

If you dream of a better tomorrow and believe you have a positive contribution to make, you just might be a writer.

3. Optimistic – You need faith to be a writer. You must believe that your manuscript will find a publisher, and your book will find an audience. You need to believe you are making a difference when you are spending quality time typing words in solitude.

Writers stay motivated with little feedback, persevering against the odds for the privilege of spreading their thoughts, beliefs and knowledge with others. Writers concern themselves less with making a living than with sharing their life with others.

Writers find the ray of sunshine on the cloudiest of days. They keep a spring in their step even when they feel at a loss for words. They believe in their dreams and the best of writers help others believe in their own dreams, too.

Are you ready to become a writer?

I Will Prevail! (And Other Things I Tell Myself in the Shower.)

One admonition I can’t seem to scrub from my brain is my mother’s bit about wearing the right underwear in case I’m in a car accident. Maybe your mother used the word, “clean,” when giving underwear life lessons, but mine specified “right.” Her reasoning was if I had on a pair of lacy deals or something even more scandalous, the attending physician in the ER might think I’m loose.

Yeah. That’s going to be a flash of thought for me, I suppose, when the doc is trying to volt me with paddles, and is tweezing shards of glass from my forehead. “Whoa, this chick might not live through the night, but, oh well. She’s got on frilly underwear, and you know what that makes her.”

Whenever I hear naysayer anthems in any walk of life, I have this strange tendency to contemplate the difference between the undies my mom wishes I’d wear, and the undies I do wear. (Yes, sorry, my brain works that way.)

One naysayer anthem I’ve heard relates directly to my newest gig in becoming a published author and venturing into the land of woe and book sales.

What’s said: “Don’t expect much because you won’t get much.”

What I hear: “Wear your granny panties.”                     

Well, you know what? I don’t want to wear my granny panties. And you know what else? I don’t care what I should expect. And I don’t care if an ER doctor thinks I’m loose, and I don’t care if people think I’m chasing unrealistic dreams.

(OK, I actually do care if an ER doctor thinks I’m loose, so don’t quote me on that. I got lost in the moment.)

One thing I do care about is what moves me. I need a juicy little nugget of hope, dangling just out of my hungry grasp. Yes, I know the odds are not in my favor of being a best-selling author. Yet, I still tell myself it’s a matter of when, not if, because anything short of that . . . well, if I didn’t have that particular hope to chase each day, then I’d be lying on the floor pressing a Life Alert button just to see if anyone comes.

I might have failure after failure, never even getting as far as putting one tiny finger on the first stair to success, but I’m sorry, I won’t stop striving and dreaming for more until I’m dead.

(Oh, and when it is my time to go, I hope whether or not the doctor resuscitates me isn’t predicated on my underwear choice.)

What moves you? What are your dreams? What kind of undies do you wear? (Kidding!)