Keeping a Dream Journal - Writer's Digest

Keeping a Dream Journal

Publish date:

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.

Image placeholder title

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.


Three Keys to Crafting Chemistry Between Characters

Romance author Michelle Major explains her three go-to tips for ensuring your characters have believable chemistry.

Saving Money on Your Screenwriting Career

Take Two: Saving Money on Your Screenwriting Career

No one wants to break the bank to learn how to write a screenplay. Jeanne Veillette Bowerman shares practical tips on saving money on the pursuit of a screenwriting career.


10 Epic Quotes From Watership Down, by Richard Adams

Here are 10 epic quotes from Watership Down, by Richard Adams. The story of a group of rabbits who escape an impending danger to find a new home, Watership Down is filled with moments of survival, faith, friendship, fear, and hope.

WD Poetic Form Challenge

WD Poetic Form Challenge: Quintilla Winner

Learn the winner and Top 10 list for the Writer’s Digest Poetic Form Challenge for the quintilla.


Plot Twist Story Prompts: Fight or Flight

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, it's fighting time.


Vintage WD: 10 Rules for Suspense Fiction

John Grisham once admitted that this article from 1973 helped him write his thrillers. In it, author Brian Garfield shares his go-to advice for creating great suspense fiction.


The Chaotically Seductive Path to Persuasive Copy

In this article, author, writing coach, and copywriter David Pennington teaches you the simple secrets of excellent copywriting.

Grinnell_Literary Techniques

Using Literary Techniques in Narrative Journalism

In this article, author Dustin Grinnell examines Jon Franklin’s award-winning article Mrs. Kelly’s Monster to help writers master the use of literary techniques in narrative journalism.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 545

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a cleaning poem.