Writing can affect your dreamlife in the strangest ways. When I was writing about synaesthesia for Breathing in Colour, I had lucid dreams in which I experienced the mingled perceptions of synaesthesia, even though I don’t have the condition in my waking life. Now I’m writing about a man who suffers from moving nightmares in Dreamrunner, I’ve had incidents in which I wake up acting out a dream movement, like raising my arm in the air or half sitting up in my sleep (See my IASD 2009 paper on the On Writing page).
It’s astonishing and at the same time understandable to recognise the extent to which our creative writing can shape the content of our dreams. My short story The Kielius Fish, itself built around a mixture of dreamed and imagined imagery, prompted a whole string of dreams, lucid and non-lucid, about leaping fish. Once I dreamed of struggling to save a golden fish that was ‘drowning’ in the sand, and I wrote this into a poem. Dreams spark writing, which spark dreams, which spark more writing (the dreaming mind doesn’t allow anyone the luxury of claiming writer’s block). With lucid dreams, the scope for dream creativity seems to extend even further; the dreamer ‘wakes up’ inside the dream and can consider her writing projects while engaging with her imagination in one of its purest forms.
Chris Olsen and Kira Sass from the US have produced a stunning documentary on lucid dreaming, in which beautiful images accompany dream anecdotes, and researchers share their insights and their most formative and powerful lucid dreams. It’s called ‘Wake up! Exploring the Potential of Lucid Dreaming.’
Something to try: When you next realise you’re dreaming, try thinking about your current writing project in the dream; call up one of the characters to talk with, or ask the dream environment for help with some element of the plot. Be ready to be surprised by what materialises!