Writing Coach Insights: Writing in Your Sleep


Writing doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, it can be so easy that you can literally do it in your sleep. Whether you like it or not, your mind is engaged in a creative process while you doze: dreaming. Of course, when we have nightmares, we probably have little appreciation for this fact. I still remember a marauding robot dream that woke me, screaming, from a sound sleep at age four. Not pleasant. But I also vividly remember other dreams that were rich in mood and emotion, in which small wishes were fulfilled–an embrace, a kind word–or confusions were played out in strange contexts.

Whether the subject is pleasant or otherwise, dreams often have lingering power. As writers, we can take advantage of this preexisting creative content by recycling the moods, images, characters, and events of our dreams as poems and stories. I have done this, and it kind of feels like cheating, like plagiarizing from myself. But, in fact, there is no cheating involved. It comes from your own mind, regardless of the state of consciousness you happen to be in when it arrives. And you still get full credit for it all.

So, my suggestion is to work on remembering your dreams, and write them down. Usually, if you have the desire to remember, you will. And sometimes, the result will be a fully-formed poem or a complete story scene. Easy.