We've all heard of sleep walking and sleep talking, but have you ever heard of "sleep writing"? Whenever I finish writing a poem or a story, the first thing I do before editing my work is to sleep on it. That's right, the first arduous task after completing a masterpiece is to catch some zzzz's. The reason for this is that you might be tempted to submit that jewel of literature right then and there with an impulsive click of the submit button on a literary magazine's website, because you truly believe that this is the very best thing you've ever written. If this were Mrs. McClusky's 8th Grade Language Arts class, you would get an A+ for sure. In the hard, early morning light of day you will realize that this isn't the best piece of writing in your portfolio, but it has potential if tweaked and prodded a bit. Also, your level headed daytime self will notice the need for deleting all of those extra exclamation points and words translated into French for effect. Everything starts and ends as a great idea. It's all good; don't worry. Just sleep on it first, and your subconscious mind will make it better for you.
That's right, inside every writer there is a dreamland editor just waiting to get out and into your computer files. As luck would have it, your mind has all of those chapters and stanzas filed away in brain cells, so that when you sleep, you are actually working very hard at your writing. It almost justifies having a cat nap during the day, doesn't it? Or perhaps just a daydream for inspiration. I should have a poster made for my office door that reads: "Caution: Writer at Work - Do Not Startle if in a Trance or Awaken if in a Sleeping Position on the Couch".
As silly as this theory might sound, I find it to hold true in most writer's block situations. I am currently working on a new poem for my latest writing project. Just 2 more poems, and I will have half of a completed manuscript, so the pressure is on my dreamtime self to be in top form. I wrote this poem a week ago, but I am not satisfied enough to call it done. I am just not happy with the last two lines. The message is right, but the lines don't fit the mood or style of the rest of the poem. I have slept on this poem for a number of nights and it is still not coming together. My experiment tonight, after doing more editing, will be to read through the entire poem one more time before my head hits the pillow. I will program myself to dream about a resolution for the poem. With the muses and my subconscious on my side, the answer to my poetic puzzle will present itself by the morning (if I can get to my computer before my 4-year-old demands Cheerios). Wish me luck. Also, if anyone happens to cross creative wires with me and receives the answer to my poem's ending (it's about a marshland in New England - that's all I'm revealing), then feel free to e-mail me your words of editorial wisdom.
Funny stories aside, I do believe in allowing ideas for writing projects to percolate and then allowing the creative subconscious to work out what the waking mind often makes too complicated. Our dreams can be amazing teachers. Go ahead and pat yourself on the back, because it's all you! You are both the talented writer and the skillful editor wrapped up into one, literary powerhouse package.
Write to dream - then dream about writing, so that the words come to life on the page for all to be inspired!