Friday, November 02, 2007

Reverse TiVo Your Dreams

November is National Novel Writing Month, and as I swung into gear to work on this year's project I realized I didn't have any dreams to post here this week. Why? Because I've reprogrammed my brain to handle writing tasks while I sleep, to help me beat the "50,000 words in 30 days" challenge. It dawned on me that this might be an interesting topic to share this time around--how to ask dreams to work for you.

Programming yourself to dream solve isn't restricted to writers, of course. You can ask your subconscious to mull over all sorts of issues--financial debacles, relationship niggles, or career move struggles. For me, I often set my mind to working on a character motivation or plot point, and sometimes find a whole chapter or two sitting in my head the next day.

How do you program your subconscious? As you lie down to sleep, tell yourself that you want to work on "X" issue, then focus on it as you unwind. This can be a bit sticky if the problem at hand is stressful, as you may find it tough to slip into a relaxed enough state to sleep. If this happens, steer your mind away from the anxiety associated with your issue, and toward objective, systematic solutions. Picture yourself after having solved the problem, happy and moving on to better things. Then let your subconscious take over as you drift away.

When you wake up, a pen and paper at bedside is useful to record impressions you have. Did you actually dream? Write it down. Answers may lie there. Even if you do not dream or your dream seems in no way connected, your mind may still have come up with suggested answers! Ever have those moments when an answer "suddenly" pops into your head? As you rise to face the day, ideas may occur to you. Jot them down. If you're truly fortunate, you'll have figure it all out overnight. Other times, several sessions may be necessary. And yes, this all takes a bit of practice for most, so don't expect miracles the first tme you try. Still, after you've done dream programming you'll find it helpful in all sorts of ways, from learning and retaining new information to writing your way out of an inescapable plot corner!

Next time you find yourself in a pickle, try setting your mind to the task while you sleep. You may be surprised what it can do while you're "out of the office."

Until next time, may your best dreams all come true. . .