Excavate Your Dreams To Boost Your Writing

Hey writers! This week, we’re going to explore dreams and how we can use them in our writing.

Do you remember your dreams? Does it come in bits and pieces? Have you ever woken up from a particularly vivid nightmare and still felt afraid? Or do you not remember your dreams at all? Either way, think about what a dream feels like and how you experience them. Often the most intense moments of dreams stick with us when we wake up, but we may not quite recall how we got there. We may carry this feeling with us throughout the day but aren’t sure why or how.

Writing About Dreams

In writing, dreams can be a fascinating area to play around within, because they don’t have to follow any set of “rules” that the rest of your creative world may possess. Even in a fantasy world with dragons and monsters, there is an order to it that must make sense. With dreams, however, there are no rules because dreams are not real. You may be able to fly in a dream, even if you cannot fly in real life. This magical quality is often called surrealism.

This image is used to show an example of surrealism in art and literature. Salvador Dalí's "The Persistance of Memory" is used specifically to show what a dream state can look like visually.

The artist Salvador Dalí was influenced heavily by surrealism. This painting is titled The Persistence of Memory.

Dreams are also special because they are very personal. Your mind pulls from all your past experiences to create a dream specifically for you. Think it like Netflix, only you don’t get to control what you watch. You also forget what you just watched. Sometimes, people want to remember their dreams, so they start writing a dream journal. They’ll wake up and immediately write down everything they remember about their dream before it disappears. If they keep doing this every day, they believe they’ll be able to make sense of their dreams. Perhaps they can stop any nightmares from happening again.

Even in fiction, dreams are a fun tool to show us what a character may be going through. Just like our dreams are personal, the same is true for our characters. If there is something a character doesn’t feel ready to discuss, but is struggling with internally, dreams are a great way to communicate that. Likewise, if a character is in love, they may dream of being married and growing old together.

Prompt

Write about a dream you once had. If you remember your dreams, try writing down as much as you can remember one morning before getting up. Otherwise, write one from your past or from a character’s perspective. Think about how your dreams have felt and try to mimic that feeling. While dreams may not be real, they can still feel very real. Write it out as if it were a scene in a story and allow yourself to have fun with it. Defy gravity. Make things weird. Let it feel unique. Afterward, if you want to share what you’ve written or would like some feedback on your work, please submit your stories to teenwriters@tscpl.org. Happy writing!

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Kody is a Youth Librarian who primarily works with teens. He is also a writer and photographer, and drank several cups of coffee while writing this post.