When I was in highschool my nightmares started getting worse. I’d been having them for a while, but it got to the point that I feared falling asleep like I was living in a low-budget version of A Nightmare on Elm Street. My stress got worse, I was tired all the time, and I would spend the rest of the day genuinelly disturbed by the things I dreamt. You’ve probably have had those dreams too, the ones that make you jolt awake crying. In my case, the nightmares would repeat themselves not only within the week, but the dream would play out in the same night several times, and there was nothing I could do to change the course of it.
The school counselor suggested I may be experiencing a nightmare disorder, caused by severe stress among other issues. She suggested trying out meditation (which did help, but wasn’t enough), but then my one of my creative writing teachers gave me the most clichéd answer: write about it. I listened to her, and started a “nightmare journal” (the one from the cover). Not only did it actually help me work on my nightmares, but you wouldn’t believe how much it changed my writing game!
1. Dreams are the fine line between creativity and insanity
There’s no editing in dreaming; when you’re asleep, your mind never stops and goes “woah, that’s too crazy” like you do when you’re conscious.
Write your dreams, play out a story based on what you remember. Maybe it won’t give you the material you’re looking for, but you’ll definitely get in the habit of venturing fresher, more creative possibilities in your new writings. Embrace the crazy, dare to be creative.
This was especially helpful with poetry.
2. You get excited about writing (and re-reading your stuff) everyday
I don’t know about you, but the idea of writing something every single day overwhelms me with pressure ’cause my muse doesn’t always have time for me. So just jotting down the gibberish that my brain hallucinated is easy work.
The thing is, even when my nightmares were still terrifying, they became somehow interesting on paper. And if you reread them after a few days, they even become somewhat fascinating. It’s fun to revisit your writing without the pressure to find something coherent or perfect.
3. Lucid dreaming, y’all
Experience the ultimate Writers’ of controlling the world you create around you? Yes, please.
Having a dream journal is actually a great way to initiate youself in a practice of lucid dreaming. I don’t know if it will make you a better writer, but it’ll definitely help you have fun and that’s also needed, right?
4. Acknowledge your demons, become friends
Hear me out. Your nightmares, and dreams in general, do reveal a big deal about you. I don’t mean it in the esoteric sense (although I love the more mystical interpretations on dreams, but I understand if you’re a skeptic), but when you start writing down what goes through your subconscious at night, you start picking up little patterns and recurrent elements in your dreams.
Just noticing them or doing some research on them can help you work on those issues, and if you’re a writer, that new knowledge can be a source of inspiration to write about what moves you.
When you start paying attention to what’s going on inside you, you know exactly what you want to set free in the world. And then, you write it.