Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Dreaming in Words



Have you ever heard somebody say that they have such great daydreams, but when it comes time to put it to paper, they freeze? Ever felt that way?

This is one of the most common things I hear as a writer. People are always expressing how amazing they think it is that I can write. While they have ideas, they don’t know how to get them from their dreams onto paper.

Over the years, I have responded that they should try, maybe take some writing classes. I was always looking for a response that would encourage them, but, truthfully, I had none. I honestly didn’t understand what they were saying. I’ve never lacked the ability to just sit down and pour out words onto a page.

Then one night I was lying in bed. Not tired, not interested in watching TV or reading or writing, I was doing what I love to do most. I was daydreaming. Something was wrong with the scene and I stopped it, backed it up, and tried to correct it.

That’s when I heard it. Something I had never heard before. I realized it had been there so long, I had tuned it out. It was a voice, reading a story to me, an invisible book, if you will.

I wasn’t really daydreaming, I was writing. Without pen or keyboard, my mind was crafting sentences and feeding them to me to create an image that played out like a movie behind my closed eyelids.

Before you pick up the phone to reserve my padded room, just think about it. Daydreams aren’t some ethereal creation that just floats into a person's head. They’re created by your own mind.

I may not be a neurologist, but there is a connection in the brain that links words with images. When we read, we almost see the story. Is it so hard to believe that the reverse could happen? That as we watch an image being played out, our mind is ordering words into sentences?

Since that moment, I have spent hours honing my craft silently. While I do the dishes, drive to work, in the shower, anywhere and everywhere I let my mind wonder, writing and rewriting dreams in words. It’s little to wonder why, when I finally sit down to type, that the words pour out of me. I’ve been working on that scene for weeks.

While not all, not even most, of the scenes I entertain myself with daily will blossom into a story and make it into a book, they’re still invaluable to me as a writer. Writing, like any skill, requires practice. I, like most people, don’t have all the time to sit around working with paper and pen.

So now when people tell me that they can’t write, I ask if they daydream. When they say they do, I tell them they are already writing. It’s just a matter of listening for that voice.

Okay, now you can pick up the phone and call the men in white. I really wouldn’t mind being locked away for a while. It will give me more time to work on my writing.

Jenny Penn
Deception – coming soon in fall from Siren Publishing
Mating Claire – coming soon in fall from Siren Publishing
Cattleman’s Club: Patton’s Way – coming in late fall from Siren Publishing
http://www.jennypenn.com/
www.myspace.com/jennypennbooks

3 comments:

JC said...

I often joke that I dream in subtitles to my friends, because that is the best way I can explain the meshing of text and images that happens in my brain. There are times I will dream something, and when I look at an image words will just over-lay themselves in my mind. But it's not quite like subtitles, just like it isn't quit writing. It just is.

I'm glad I'm not the only one with this "problem."

Silapa Jarun said...

It was a voice, reading a story to me, an invisible book, if you will.

I love how you expressed this phenomenon!

Ofcourse my problem is the narrator is usually in the third person omniscient the purportedly "boring" voice of fiction. I hate POVs in writing (^_^). That's why I like screenwriting but then again one is more likely to get a story published than a script turned into a movie.

Awesome post!

Savanna Kougar said...

There have been nights, it's just one sentence after another, almost as if a whole book or screenplay is being written. However, I don't every remeember writing those stories. Although, when I'm half awake, some of my best stories and phrases show themselves.
I will have to say I don't think it's just a product of my mind or brain, though.