Keeping a Dream Journal

The Daily Writer by Fred White

Even in our sleep we are storytellers. However, because dream stories possess a bizarre inner logic of their own, they can be difficult to capture—but they’re stories nonetheless. Many of them are mosaics, each fragment contributing to an overall design. Incidents usually unfold in a free-associative and spatial rather than rational manner.

The goal of keeping a dream journal is to be able to examine the content and the sequencing of dream stories. Doing so might help you develop the inner compulsions and desires (repressed or otherwise) of your characters.

Keeping a dream journal is a kind of biofeedback phenomenon: the greater your effort to capture your dreams, the more vividly your dreams will become, and the likelier you will be to capture some of them—at least that’s the theory. It might work for you, or it might not—but it’s worth a try, and perhaps, as a bonus, your dream life will improve and truly serve as a resource for your writing.

1.    Give yourself a full month to get into the knack of recording your dreams. First, you will need a dream journal that you’ll keep on the nightstand within easy reach. Every morning (or in the middle of the night as the case may be) upon awakening, immediately jot down as much of your dream(s) as you can recall. Don’t take time to edit. Even seemingly wrong or inappropriate usage can be revealing.
2.    After a few weeks of recording your dreams, go through your dream journal and adapt one of the dream sequences into a short story about someone who suddenly is unable to distinguish between dream and reality.

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