You’ve noticed the roadside sign, but have you ever stayed for the night? It’s the Dew Drop Inn and it’s much more than a cheap stopover. It’s not one place, it’s many. This is the sanctuary where writers keep their most valued treasures. You can think of it as a secret society for the pen-and-paper crowd, a storehouse of moldy mind tricks. Here’s one from the vaults.
Being an old geezer, I don’t remember where I first learned this little gimmick. It’s been with me for decades. The journey began because I wanted to remember my dreams. But, I was lazy. I didn’t want to bother with a dream journal and I certainly didn’t want to wake myself up in the middle of the night to scribble notes on a nightstand pad of paper. All of this was just too much work. What I wanted most of all was to discover if my dreams could help me with writing in some way. Like most writers, I was constantly on safari for inspiration.
This is the simple process I discovered, and it works. It’s a hybrid, four-step mind-game that basically takes only 90 seconds when you wake up and no time at all when you’re falling asleep. The three steps used when waking up are critical. I wish I could lay claim to these but I cannot. I just don’t remember where I read (or heard) about them. This is why they are enshrined in the Dew Drop Inn. All I know is that they work. My contribution is the first step, and I found it by accident.
If you’re searching for fresh inspiration, and you like to create characters, this might work well for you. Simple as pie. I’ve used it to create many characters and even produce an inner writer or two to help me with the drudgery of getting words on the page.
Step One: There are those few luscious moments just before you fall asleep. You are partially here, partially there, but nowhere in particular. You sense that sleep is on the doorstep and you can feel its shadow. Now is the best time to begin to create a character. Let your mind wander completely unfettered. Develop a new character or just enhance one that you’ve previously created. Give the character all the detail and dimension that your sleepy, nomadic mind will allow. Hold nothing back and let your character romp across your psyche. Now, just drop off.
Step Two: You begin to feel yourself come awake. Don’t move, don’t open your eyes. Just lay there for 30 seconds, motionless and peaceful with your eyes closed. Make no effort. Be still. Easy enough, eh? Doing nothing at all can feel so sweet.
Step Three: For the next 30 seconds, let your dream images ripple through your mind. Eyes still closed, still motionless. Just let them drift by and enjoy those few seconds of image-entertainment. Maybe they’re dreams, maybe not. They could just be waking fantasies. It really doesn’t matter. The critical point is to not interfere with the process regardless of how silly it may evolve. Don’t judge. Just enjoy.
Step Four: Mentally grab a character during this last 30 seconds. Yes, there will be a character in there somewhere. He or she will have drifted through your waking mind in Step Three. During this phase, just grab the character you like from the images you have enjoyed. Hold that character in mind as you begin to come awake and start to move around. Let the character continue to move through your mind, free of your interference. The character will self-develop right before your mind’s eye.
Now, keep that character with you for a little while as you begin your day. Maybe you’ll want to make some notes about the character, maybe you’ll just play with him or her in your mind. It really doesn’t matter, so long as you keep that character with you for a time. Once the character has taken seed, he or she will stay with you for a surprisingly long time. The evolution process will take care of itself.
This simple technique works well for creating new characters or enhancing those you’ve already given life. It’s your choice. Just use Step One as the launching pad for the dreaming/creative process to begin. You may fall asleep thinking about a particular character and wake up with a completely new one on your mind. It happens all the time. Whatever the outcome, your morning character is one of your own creation and he or she now belongs to you. If the character pleases you, entices you in some way, write about it. If not, there’s always tomorrow night.
Note to the uninitiated: This process doesn’t work too well with the dreaded alarm clock. If you absolutely must use an alarm clock, make sure it has a snooze function!