One of my most useful writing tools is the lucid dream. It’s a halfway state between wakefulness and random dreaming, where I can set the stage, place the characters in motion, and even stop and rewind the action. It’s great for working through scenes and seeing how the characters will act, all before touching the keyboard.
This happens for me before finally drifting off into snore mode at night, in the dawn light of the morning, and occasionally in those in between times between deep sleep and wakefulness.
I’m having trouble using lucid dreaming at all this week. We’re in Yellowstone National Park for a week of touring the great loop and watching animals. Mary Ann is a nature photographer, and so our typical day is up at five to be at the wolf observation sites before dawn, then tour the park, stopping for buffalo, elk, coyotes, and bear. Come sunset, we will be in a photogenic location for her sunset shots. Of course, at that time, we are halfway across the huge park from out room in Cook City on the far eastern edge of the park. So, I drive (I do all the driving) back that direction, until we stop for another photo shoot of star trails or the milky way.
Eventually, we drag in near midnight and collapse, with the clock set for five again just a few short hours away.
Now, I do dream under these conditions, but it’s hardly the leisurely set up and monitoring useful for my writing. It’s the random mis-mash of people and events I can barely remember when waking, and forget soon after. It’s the processing type of dream scientists think is necessary maintenance to memory development.
I can’t gripe too much about the lack of dream-writing time, not when it’s just part of being in Yellowstone. But the same dynamic probably happens with other dawn to midnight days when I’m trying to get a lot of activity done in too few hours. Lucid dreaming, for me, takes time. Time to drift off to sleep, not just crash. (Oops. I had to go run take a picture of a wolf watching us. Now where was I?) Time to wake up gently, rather than jumping up to silence the alarm.
It all takes time, doesn’t it? Time to plot, time to compose, time to edit, and lots not even speak of the time it takes to market. It’s all a trade off. And sometimes we just have to take some extra time to live.