Dream Work Helps Author Solve Writer’s Block
I love how my Writing Muse communicates with me through my dreams, especially if I consciously and deliberately set my intention to bust through writer’s block before I fall asleep.
Last week, I got stalled at the beginning of Chapter 4 for An Imperfect Angel, my new Romance novel. At the time, I panicked, because I was on a stringent, self-imposed deadline for my e-book publisher (and writing blog posts like a fiend for my 3-month book tour for The Secrets to Getting Your Romance Novel Published.)
But my Writing Muse, which is so much wiser than I, already had the solution for An Imperfect Angel. I just needed to be smart enough to understand the cryptic messages that my Muse was communicating through my dreams!
An Imperfect Angel is a unique project for me. It concludes my humorous Naughty and Nice series more than 10 years after the first two Western Historical Romances were released in paperback.
I am writing Angel at the request of my e-book publisher, who wants to release it – hopefully, before the end of the year— in conjunction with Scoundrel for Hire and His Wicked Dream (original paperback title, Always Her Hero). Since I set up Angel’s story through a subplot in the second book of the series, I didn’t anticipate having a problem picking up that plot thread, even though 10 years had elapsed.
But there I sat last week, stalled at the beginning of Chapter Four. Several problems had already cropped up in the storyline, and my creative flow had ended. Pulling words out of my brain was like trying to force a watermelon through the eye of a needle.
I took a nap.
As adults, we often discount the incredible power of napping. In my case, I always associated naps with being weak and ineffectual — a “baby.” I also used to tell myself that I was far too busy to take a 45-minute break in the middle of the day for a catnap. However, I have since read research that suggests that giving oneself permission to sleep for a short period during a busy or stressful schedule can be highly beneficial.
So I experimented. I discovered that napping in the middle of a creative project rejuvenates me mentally and emotionally. More importantly, it allows me to access my subconscious mind when I desperately need to reconnect my conscious mind with my Writing Muse.
If my goal is to break through writer’s block, I set a very clear intention before I fall asleep to solve my writing problems through dream work. I learned this intentioning technique in a lucid dreaming workshop many years ago, and it still works wonders for me today. To supplement this mental intentioning process (which can include Creative Visualization and Affirmations), I also write clear goals on paper minutes before I retire. These are the processes that I used to break through my writers block for Angel.
I began this dream work process on Tuesday night. I knew immediately that the process was working because on Wednesday and Thursday mornings, I woke from my dreams with one clear word booming through my head, “HUMOR.”
Now here is the trick with lucid dreaming: interpreting the message. In the lucid dreaming workshop that I attended, the presenter made a very strong point against relying solely upon dream interpretation books for clues; rather, he suggested that the lucid dreamer evaluate images and conversations from a dream based upon personal meaning.
In the presenter’s case, he gave the example of a reoccurring dream in which a swarm of bees was bursting out of his body. In dream interpretation books, bees are often associated with “busy as a bee” or “the birds and bees,” and neither interpretation felt right to the presenter.
He finally figured out the dream’s message only after his therapist asked him, “What do bees mean to you?”
His answer? ”Bees are angry little creatures.”
So when my subconscious relayed the booming message, “HUMOR,” I didn’t rush for my dream interpretation manual. Instead, I analyzed what “humor” means to me. Through this process, I interpreted my subconscious’s message as a sort of encouragement: keep a positive attitude in the face of frustration.
Apparently, however, I hadn’t yet grasped the real meaning behind my Writing Muse’s communication. My creative stall continued, and I kept waking up from my dreams with that same booming message, “HUMOR!” reverberating through my head.
I was forced to nap through one more creative stall before my patient Writing Muse finally got me to understand what She was communicating about my writers block. I was writing Angel based on Wicked’s subplot, and that subplot had NO HUMOR. Angel’s first three chapters were way too intense. At the rate I was going, Angel would become a jarring departure from the rest of the series, which was humorous. I needed to sacrifice that subplot and start writing Angel from scratch.
No writer ever wants to hear that she has just written 84 pages that will never see the light of day. On the other hand, the advice to rewrite is far more comforting coming from one’s Writing Muse, than from one’s publisher!
Now that I have realigned my creative vision through all this dream work, Angel is flowing much smoother. The characters are making me laugh — which I consider a good sign in the Humor Department.
Of course, the task of rewriting the subplot in Wicked also lies before me now. But that is the beauty of ebook publishing. You can go back to an electronic book and rewrite anything you want, as many times as you want, without incurring a significant cost. (I’m really starting to like this electronic publishing scene!)
More to the point, I’ve rediscovered how simple intention-setting before I fall asleep can help me tap my subconscious mind through my dreams, allowing me to solve my story plotting problems and bust through writer’s block!