Monday, September 24, 2012

The Power of Dreams

"Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.  Begin it now." -- Goethe (German Novelist and Poet).


Do you dream a lot?


I have funky strange dreams. And maybe a couple of times of month, I'm able to do what's called lucid dreaming. I find this ability a pretty handy one - especially when my dream is going so well. Once I was dreaming that I was in a school being attacked by a couple kids armed with automatic weapons. They were slaughtering everybody. I ran into the office, which was guarded by a cop. Well, the two intruders mowed down the guard and stormed the office.


I stopped my dream (think Zack Morris from Saved By the Bell), and rewound everything. Then I whipped up an entire squad of heavily armed Marines. Then hit play. When the dream resumed, the two intruders were stopped by my soldiers. Happy Ending.


To this day, however, I have yet to be inspired by an actual dream in my everyday creative world. But I know many of YOU have been. History is full of examples of great innovators being directly inspired by their dreams. Just take a look:


Stephen King: He fell asleep on a plane and dreamed about a crazy woman keeping a writer prisoner. His dream was MORE freaky. In it, the woman killed the author, fed his remains to a pig, and bound a book with the author's skin. It didn't quite happen that way in his novel, Misery, but you get the picture.


Robert Louis Stevenson: During a creepy nightmare, he imagined himself splitting in two. And the police were chasing after him for committing some crime. During the pursuit, he consumed some kind of powder to change back to his normal self. His wife actually woke him from his dream, and he started celebrating that he had discovered a wonderful plot to write The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.


James Cameron: This great director was sick and suffering from a high fever. While dreaming, he imagined a silver figure emerging from a big fire, and it ended up being an evil, menacing cyborg with red eyes. The machine dragged itself across the kitchen with knives. Thus, The Terminator was born.


Mary Shelley: She had a nightmare about some young scholar kneeling next to a monster of a man that had been re-animated using a machine. The vision scared her to the point where she woke up screaming...first in complete terror, then in absolute joy. She had the inspiration to write her great novel, Frankenstein.


Paul McCartney: Sir Paul was filming the movie Help! with his fellow Beatles, and was asleep up in some attic of his family's home in town. He dreamed about a tune being played by a string orchestra that he thought he had heard when he was a kid. When he woke up, the melody was still in his head and he realized that it was not a song from his childhood, but an original song he had just made up. He immediately went to a piano, and he started playing what would become Yesterday.



How about you? Have you EVER been inspired by an actual dream?

32 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I can't say anything I've written has been inspired by a dream. And I've never rewound any of my dreams, but I have stopped in the middle of something weird and though 'This isn't right' and ended the dream. My wife says I ruin more good dreams because I realize they aren't real and wake myself.

Matthew MacNish said...

I get inspired by dreams all the time. The stories rarely work out to be viable in the sense of novel length works, but often they work as short stories or vignettes.

M. J. Joachim said...

My family really appreciates the outcomes of some of my dreams, because often they are recipes (with the most unusual combination of ingredients) that get transformed into the most delicious meals. As far as writing - those are daydreams, and when they hit, I better be in a position to write them down, because they disappear almost as fast as they happen sometimes.

J. A. Bennett said...

I love it when I have a good dream to inspire a story. However I often find myself waking up and realizing that my dreams are not as cool when I'm awake as the seemed the night before. Oh well, maybe someday I'll dream something into writing :)

Vero said...

Great list, Jay. I like Stephen King's dream... ;)

Though I've never been directly inspired by a dream, mine are often characterized by a strangely menacing yet intriguing mood, and this mood is a constant undercurrent in my fiction.

To exemplify what I mean, I often dream of staircase mazes such as this one, in which I'm either chased or chasing something inhuman. I guess they would count as nightmares to most people, but I perceive them as very intense and surreal adventures. :)

Ciara said...

I rarely remember my dreams. I wish I did, I have a feeling it would be a trip. :)

David P. King said...

All but one of my ideas have come from dreams. And the other (my collaboration) was someone elses' dream. Sometimes I dream about the stories as I write them, too. :)

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

Stephanie Meyer created Twilight from a dream. Talk about a 150 million dollar inspiration!

Some of the greatest writers who have ever lived were drug users. Drugs (I think) does the same kind of thing as lucid dreaming. Especially Absinthe.

Jay Noel said...

Alex: That's lucid dreaming. Next step is to actively start taking control of the dream!

Matthew: I wish I could be inspired by my dreams. Mine are just too weird.

MJ: Recipies? MMMMMM!

J.A.: I'm the same way. I wake up, think about my dream, and then think: "Lame!"

Vero: Ah, so you're capture the mood or essence of a dream. Maybe I've done that before too.

Jay Noel said...

Ciara: I probably have one or two dreams a week I remember. Just not worth remembering!

David: I have had dreams of a story I'm writing. Just nothing useful yet.

Michael: Forget about Meyer! She dreamed about a particular scene, I believe. Man, I need me one of those kinds of inspirational dreams.

The Desert Rocks said...

Yikes, I think I'm going to have nightmares. Great post Jay!

T. S. Bazelli said...

All the time. Sometimes they turn into scenes in stories, and sometimes the seed of those ideas grow into something bigger or something else. :)

M Pax said...

I don't think I've ever written anything I've dreamed. A few weeks ago I dreamed about chicken-eating aliens visiting the observatory. Ugh, they only ate raw chicken.

Karen Lange said...

I've had some odd dreams lately. Probably should watch what I eat before I go to sleep.

Thanks so much for stopping by my blog today. It's great to meet you! Have a great week!

The Golden Eagle said...

Definitely. A majority of my dreams never make it into my stories in any form (though I keep a dream journal), but I've been inspired by a few.

Miranda Hardy said...

I've always had bizarre dreams, Stephen King type dreams. They have helped spark a creative side to my imagination. I can't say, though, that one particular dream has morphed into a plot. Not yet, at least.

Jay Noel said...

Eve: Write it down. It could make a great story!

T.S. Wow. I envy you.

Mary: Now that is a weird dream.

Karen: I get weird dreams when I'm sick.

Eagle: Maybe I should keep a dream journal too.

Miranda: Same here!

Callie Leuck said...

I think I heard somewhere that Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein as part of a scary-story-writing competition with her husband and some couple they were friends with. If this is not true, someone should tell me so I can claim the idea as my own :)

I've occasionally had lucid dreams, but I've yet to be able to have superpowers in them (rewinding, etc). Usually I'm quite happy just enjoying the dream as it progresses.

Kelley Lynn said...

I NEVER remember my dreams. Ever. So, unfortunately I must get inspiration elsewhere...

Laura Eno said...

I dream A LOT and get many of my story ideas from them. I've also had a couple of plots bloom from a single word. It's weird but I'll take it!

Samantha May said...

I have really creepy and bizarre dreams that always make it to the idea file. So if ever you read a completely wack story by me, chances are it came from a dream :D

And, Misery is like THE creepiest book/movie. *chills*

Cynthia said...

Sometimes I've had dreams that seem to make perfect sense in the first few seconds after I come out of it, and I think to myself- inspiration! But reality kicks in, and I think about it some more, and then I'm like, what was THAT?

Jay Noel said...

Callie: I'll look that up

Kelley: Never? Really???

Laura: Which I could draw inspiration from one mere word.

Samantha: I think I'll keep a journal - my own dream file. Maybe something will come from that.

Cynthia: I'm the same way. Right when I wake up, I think "cool!" But after a little while, I realize my dream was not so cool.

Misha Gericke said...

Yep. Last week, actually.

I think my subconcious decided to pull a number on me because I've been very focused one one story for six years. Now that one is done and my brain's like: WhoooooO! PARTY!

But, I have a pretty awesome idea that I'll start writing soon. Maybe this weekend, even.

BTW I also mastered the art of lucid dreaming. :-D

Ellie Garratt said...

I used to dream every night, and have a handful of lucid dreams every month. I have been on some adventures, I can tell you. Like you, I could rewind a dream and start again. However, since my relationship broke up, I hardly dream at all. No idea why. Makes me sad.

DEZMOND said...

you had some crazy dreams :)

I actually have psychic dreams and I've often predicted things that will happen while sleeping. The scariest thing is that I dreamt that my grandparents would die, each time every one of four of them died :( It was extremely scary.

Tony Acree said...

Several times I've gone to bed and dreamed a scene which has ended up in my novel. I even had one scene I was having trouble with and couldn't wait to get to sleep to see what my dreams would come up with. Then there are the dreams which include Sandra Bullock. They don't help me in my writing. But I enjoy them nonetheless.

Rusty Webb said...

My dreams tend to be things like finding that my peanut butter jar is filled with regular butter or I was going to drive to work, but ended up driving to the bookstore instead. Not exactly the stuff of great novels.

Still, when I was younger and I was more prone to nightmares, I too found I had the ability to control the action of my dreams. I used to really look forward to going to sleep as a result. Well, I look forward to going to sleep anyway, but that was especially true then.

Milo James Fowler said...

Great post, Jay -- and mos def, some of my better (and worse) story ideas have come from dreams. Unfortunately, during the school year, most of my dreams involve work, so they're much less interesting (and more stress-inducing).

Jay Noel said...

Misha: Isn't lucid dreaming awesome?

Ellie: Hmm...wonder why that happened.

Dez: I hope you don't dream about me in any bad ways. Yikes.

Tony: I wish I could dream like that. Especially about Ms. Bullock.

Rusty: Hey, at least you're not having anymore nightmares.

Milo: I wish I could be inspired by dreams in that way. It would help my writing.

Cindy said...

I have been able to do lucid dreaming, but I don't seem to have control of when I can do it. But I think in general the subconscious mind has great creative ability (I have also blogged about it). I often think of plot problems and come up with the answer in the morning. Anyway, I love to talk about things like this.

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