Transforming Nightmares into Novels

Even unpleasant things can turn out in your favor.

Advertisements

Listen. I know it’s super cliche to talk about stories that were inspired by dreams. But I’m not talking about dreams. I’m talking about nightmares.

I have anxiety dreams all the time, so I guess you could say I’m used to waking up in a cold, dark panic. But, at least for me, there’s a difference between dreams that terrify you and nightmares that just straight up creep you out.

So I had a nightmare the other night – it didn’t last long, but I still remember its storyline. I woke up not in a panic, but almost in wonder: that was weird, where did that come from, what does it mean?

Granted, I don’t really put much thought into what dreams “mean.” But just having woken up, in that place somewhere between asleep and awake, I remember thinking, That would make a really interesting thriller.

And this, my friends, is how new story ideas are born.

It’s not the nightmare itself that inspired a story, but it did make way for a few interesting ideas for the start of a new book. Thinking about it still creeps me out, but in that way you know you have to put it on paper someday. I really like that feeling – how you just know you have to make a story out of something, even though you don’t know how all the pieces fit together yet.

Technically, this all started with a particularly unpleasant experience – nightmares are not fun. But the idea that good things often come out of bad things applies here, too – you could have an awful life experience, but maybe someday you can use bits and pieces of that to build a new story.

Of course I’m already working on finishing two books and am only participating in one (my last) WriMo this year, so I might not get the chance to put this idea into words until November. But that’s okay – sometimes the best ideas are the ones that roll around in your head for awhile. There’s a time for creative spontaneity and a time to let an idea develop before you introduce it to the world.

All this to say, one of the most enjoyable things about making writing a prominent part of your life is training yourself to believe nothing that happens to you is insignificant. I treat all my life experiences as though I’m supposed to save what I see and learn for later. Without experience, you’re very limited in what you have the capacity to write about – it’s not about what you already know, but about what you’re willing to learn.

The nightmares can refrain from interrupting my sleep for awhile, thanks – but at least I now have some motivation to attempt to write my first thriller. Yay?


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

Compose your words of wisdom

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s