Tag Archives: subconscious writing

In Bed with the Muse


Dreams are important things for those of us who tell stories. As my good friend Kelly L. Stone tells us in her Thinking Write books, the subconscious brain is where the creativity lives, but it is always having to fight against our conscious mind to get out and express itself. When our work-day brain lets its guard down, when we are sleeping, or nearly asleep, or otherwise not totally conscious, out subconscious comes out to play. and that can lead to wonderful results.

The story is that Elias Howe struggled for years with the design for the sewing machine. he was convinced that it was possible, but he just couldn’t make the breakthrough that made the device perform as he envisioned. One night, though, he had a vivid dream: he was in a jungle, being pursued by “savages.” (This was in the nineteenth century, after all.) Funny thing about these guys, though – they were brandishing spears with holes in the point. Upon waking, he realized that this was the solution he had been seeking. If you go look at any modern sewing machine, you’ll see that the needle is a tiny little spear with a hole in the point — not your standard hand-sewing needle, with the hole at the other end. Only in the misty, wonderful world where logic stops controlling thoughts could Howe break out of the box and come up with a illogical, unexpected solution.

I do a lot of my best plotting in bed, just as I’m going to sleep or just as I’m waking up. I try to see my characters as if they were in a movie in my head, and I just let them wander wherever the muse takes them. I’ve gotten where I don’t dread my bouts of insomnia — they are great chances to hang out and see what my characters are up to. I’ve learned to keep a notebook by the bed, though — if I don’t write some notes down right away, I lose the idea. I woke up one morning, really excited because I had come up with such a wonderful plot for a novel, but — Alas, it would have been a bestseller, if I could have only remembered it!

So next time you’re all writer-blocked and cranky because the words just won’t come, take the easy way out. Take your muse to bed!

Oh, and by the way, y’all — I’m guest blogging over at ManCandyMonday today: http://mancandymonday2.blogspot.com/2012/04/men-in-formal-wear-by-arabella-stokes.html

Stop in and share a bit of deliciousness with us!