We all get those ideas that occur to us in the middle of the night as we’re rolling over, we reach for a pillow and poof – a story occurs to us. Some of us continue to snuggle tight to that pillow and tell ourselves we’ll remember it in the morning …zzzzz… and it’s gone; others of us roll back over, grab that notebook and make notes.
Some of those notes are not going to make a darn bit of sense in the morning, some will. My idea for “Of Strays and Exes” came to me in the middle of the night in the form of a strange first line… “when I ran over my neighbor’s dog…” I grabbed that notebook and started scribbling. I put it down, only to take it up again and again until I finally got out of bed and wrote nearly the whole story before climbing back into bed for an hour’s sleep before work.
There’s something magical happening in our brains at certain moments during the night. We’re transitioning from deep rem sleep back to stage one, nrem sleep, where we are most likely to be awakened; this is also about the time, along with other times, that hypnagogic sleep is taking place. This is a transitional state for our minds and bodies, and the best time for “stories” to happen.
During that hypnagogic stage. We’re barely asleep, barely awake and sparks are happening between neurons that give us bright ideas, great lines, interesting themes.
Most of us are working people who have to get up in the morning and go to work or raise our children or help our parents, so we don’t grab those moments as we might if say – we were independently wealthy and didn’t have to do a 9 to 5er.
If you can’t write at night, try to capture that hypnagogic state during your disciplined writing time or other random moments.
I had to have an MRI recently. Have you ever been in one of those machines, clicking, burring, whirring, and it sounds like you’re trapped in a jet engine of sorts? I put myself in one of those states and by the time the technician was pulling me out, I wanted to stay in longer.
It’s meditation and breathing – you knew I was going to say that. But for this meditation, lay down, think about your breathing while blocking everything out except the images of your story.
If you’re using this to create stories, think blue sky, blue sky, blue sky while breathing in and out. Let whatever happens in that sky occur. When you come up on an image that works for you – and you will – follow that image like a cloud in the sky, see where it takes you.
Or – of course – if you can, get up in the middle of the night and follow those half-wakeful/half hypnagogic dreams…