Top Writing Coach Tip #40: Sleep, Dream, Wake, Write

A VAST, VITAL ANIMAL SWIMS BENEATH THE SURFACE OF OUR DAILY LIVES. Half-remembered childhood dramas and complex events we are unable to fully digest—all this, and more, slips into the great ocean of our unconscious and makes its home there.

In INNER WORK, Jungian Robert A. Johnson says, We believe ourselves to be in conscious control of our actions, relationships, decisions. But . . . these aspects of our lives are actually determined from a far deeper place. It is in the world of dreaming that their root sources are revealed.

In the murky waters of dreams, filled with unlikely collisions and overlaps, with things melting into other things, we attempt to communicate with ourselves. And so do our characters. As writers, a dive into a character’s dream life can yield insights into her unconscious, shine a light on her motivations, and reveal hidden aspects of her history—adding depth to her tale.

Unlike the Push-Me-Pull-You we engage trying to decipher our own dreams, when we enter our fictional character’s world, we may have the distance we need to crack the code and hear what she is whispering in her own dreaming ear.

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