Last night, I wrote a post that included some thoughts about dreams, and I can’t tell you how important I think dreams are to writing and art in general. I’ve incorporated this thought process into my own craft and teaching. As part of my creative writing class at the rehab center, I had a week-long unit — it should have been much more — on dreams. It was called, “Images and Dreams.”
For that week, I had them read Stuart Dybek’s, “Pet Milk,” and I introduced two writing exercises called Dream Incubation and Dream Reentry, which I stole from a podcast from a University of California Berkley psychology professor. Basically, the exercises function on the principal that dreams are images generated by your unconscious that are trying to bring to “light” ideas, memories, thoughts, or emotions to your conscious thoughts, which the dreamer has suppressed.
Well, I always talked about in my class that writing was an act of discovery. We used freewriting to see what was “on the mind.” And I prescribed to the idea, which is talked about extensively by John Gardner, John Dufresne, and many other writers, that writing is dreaming. I forget who it was, but they called writing dreaming in reverse. My buddy Gonzo would know.
So with all this in my mind, I taught my students about dream incubation. What this means is that you use dreams as a way to fix a problem or answer a question. Have you ever been really struggling with an idea, a poem, a story, an essay for class, and no matter how hard you tried to find the answer while you working, you just couldn’t do it; but then, as if out of nowhere, the answer hits you in the shower, on a walk, or in a dream?Psychologists believe that this happens because your unconscious is till working out the problem even when you’re not aware of it. Dream Incubation is a way of stimulating this process while you’re awake. Continue reading “Dreams and Writing — Incubating Inspiration”