Tapping Your Dreams – Guest Post by Jaq D Hawkins…

The well-known author, HP Lovecraft, has written that he got most of his ideas for his stories from his dreams. If you’re familiar with his work, you’ll know that he created a whole mythos of strange, often tentacled creatures with ancient deity status that was truly horrific, yet he dreamt of these entities regularly and turned the ghastly images into a very popular body of fictional work.

Other authors have also tapped their dreams for settings and situations that could be turned into stories, albeit on a lesser scale. Much like using memories of real places and situations in the creation of a story setting, dream images can be a rich source, less tied to earthly Physics in some cases, to source unique environments that can be described from memory every bit as accurately as relating places and people from waking memories that stand clearly in the writer’s mind.

From conversations about dreams with a variety of people, I’ve learned that I’m not the only person who sometimes finds myself in familiar places that only exist within dreams, sometimes years apart.

It can make for some interesting conversation about the nature of mind and memory and what knowledge sources we might tap in dreaming, but for the writer, it provides a vast expansion of experience of places and people that we can describe in detail, because to us, they were perfectly real… if only during the night.

The author, Shanna Lauffey, has written on her blog that the idea for her time travel series and especially the first book,
Time Shifters, originally came to her in a dream. The opening scene and characters came to her while sleeping, even providing full colour to explain part of the way the time shifters disappear in plain sight in cities full of people who often don’t see what’s right in front of them or explain away anomalies as a trick of the light.

I personally had a vivid dream recently that was set in a place that felt very familiar during the dream and I somehow associated it with my childhood home, only it was more woodsy, like a different place where I had lived later in my life. The houses were laid out in city blocks and one corner was covered with Monkeypuzzle trees, as if several house owners had conspired to plant them all at once many years before.

A little further down the road was a patch of woods with trees laid out at angles, with knots that gave the impression of peacock feathers. I awoke thinking it would make a great feature for a Fantasy setting! So into the current work in progress it went.

The thing is, dream recall can be elusive. In fact, many people find it difficult to recall their dreams at all or they fade quickly upon waking. This is where keeping a notebook and pen or a voice recorder next to the bed can be a life saver. The above salient points of my dream got written down and although I forgot all about the dream and read these notes months later, the images from that dream come right back to me each time I read them.

Many dreams are best forgotten, it’s true. But the occasional one that provides story fodder, especially for a Fantasy writer, can be a valuable resource for tapping the depths of imagination.

Have you ever used elements from a dream to inspire your writing? Please tell us about it in the comments.

Jaq D Hawkins

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10 thoughts on “Tapping Your Dreams – Guest Post by Jaq D Hawkins…

  1. Ah, sadly none of my works have ever been based on dreams. I am one of those that you spoke of that never recall anything other than faint echoes of dreams. Nothing substantial enough to hold onto.
    Yet I do enjoy a Lovecraftian tale. Envy and hate mixed together for those that can glimpse their own subconscious musings with the urging of Cthulu.
    Lol- kidding of course but I never really remember dreams. That bit was true.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ve often used ideas from dreams in my writing. Interesting that you and others have had recurring dreams about familiar places that don’t exist in waking life. I thought it was just me!
    Incidentally, my current WIP features a Lovecraft-type ancient dark god. I think I need to give him more tentacles, though.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s an excellent point! If a character needs to be dreaming, why not script it according to real dreams? As you say, it’s too easy to make fictional dreams sound contrived.

      Liked by 2 people


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