Writing-Related Dreams

My subconscious is far from subtle.  I can always tell when I’m feeling overbooked because I start having that dream, you know the one where you discover that you’ve been the understudy for Ophelia in Hamlet for the last several months,  have missed every rehearsal, and today is opening night.  That’s the one where I’m frantically reading my lines in the green room and trying to figure out if I can hide the gigantic script up my sleeve when it’s my time to go on. 

I must be feeling particularly overwhelmed, because last night I combined the Ophelia nightmare with the other classic I’ve started having ever since I became a published author which is:  I show up at the convention hotel and discover it’s Sunday and I’ve missed every single panel I was scheduled to be on.  In my dream last night I was trying to explain to the director that I couldn’t be in Hamlet tonight because I was supposed to be at MarsCON (a convention I did have to miss this year because of a family crisis.) 

I think this whole spate of writing related stress dreams has come up because I realized on Friday that I don’t actually remember when my latest book is due at the publisher.  I’d thought it was June 1, but then I came across something that made me think it might be May 1. 


Clearly even my subconscious would like me to be more organized about these things.  I’m resolved to either find my contract in the mess that is my office or try the direct route and ask my editor.  However, I’m struck by the lack of subtrfuge on the part of my lizard brain.  I have a lot of reoccurring dreams that I’ve come to categorize as “writing-related dreams” even though on the surface they’re about other things.  There’s the car/motorcycle I’m driving that has no breaks.  There’s the classic where I discover I’m supposed to be teaching a class/ forgot to finish high school and I can’t find my classroom/ open my locker/ find my class schedule (or a combination of all of the above.) 

Do you have reoccurring writing/writing life related dreams?

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  1. 1. Lisa

    Hah, I have the car with no breaks dream myself, though I haven’t quite figured out what sort of stress it’s linked to.

    I’ve found that when work gets really stressful or busy for me (writing code, rather than writing books) I start to incorporate bits of code into the times when I’m half awake, but still mostly asleep… like I remember being restless in the night and thinking “no, no, you can’t turn over until this loop finishes executing!”

    Brains are so broken.

  2. 2. Kristine Smith

    Over the years, my stress dreams altered, from “stuck in a college course I never dropped and there’s an exam in three hours that I have to pass or I can’t graduate” to “on my way to a convention, but I get lost at the airport/train station” or “on my way to a panel, but I’m waylaid by friends and never make it.”

    When I have writing-specific dreams, I find I can never recall the details of the story I’m writing. It’s the same as when I dream of winning lottery numbers, but can’t recall the numbers upon awakening. It’s like I have this golden thing in my head that I can’t get out. It’s very vexing.

  3. 3. Kelly McCullough

    My recurring variation is one where someone at the St. Paul School Board realizes I failed to take some vital cluster of courses and contacts me to let me know that if I don’t come back and take another year of high school they’re going to revoke my entire education including college. I had this dream at least a couple of times a year from graduation through selling a book, almost always when I was worrying about something or feeling insecure.

    But after that first sale, the school dream changed. Now when the person at the school board calls me into their office, I will bring a copy of my university diploma and a couple of my books, drop them on their desk and either walk out or offer to teach a seminar or two. I usually have this version after some sort of writing milestone.

    A couple weeks ago after I hit the some stretch on MythOS I dreamed that I was back in school looking for my home room. I was late, but unworried about it. When I finally showed up, the teacher asked me if I was always going to be so late. I told him yes and explained that I was back for the year because it was a cheaper way of picking up some college courses I needed for research for my books. The teacher challenged me on the books front and I upended my backpack spilling out something like thirty books under five names, all of which I had written. The pile included the WebMage stuff, several of my books under submission and, for reasons known only to my subconscious a couple of Star Wars tie-ins.

  4. 4. Scarlett

    I’ve never really had writing related dreams, but a recent series of dreams involving me turning up in places where sci-fi conventions are due to be held later this year, with no camera and consequently in total panic (I’m about as obsessive over my photos as I am about my writing), makes me wonder.

  5. 5. editor

    I had one recently about how I suddenly had all these extra pets, and I hadn’t been feeding them for days or weeks, and they were all on the edge of death. Given how overbooked I’ve been, it wasn’t hard to interpret.

  6. 6. S.C. Butler

    No writing related dreams, but I do get the dream about suddenly discovering I have that high school class I thought I dropped. Only my fear is that I’ll have to go back to high school.

    Finding myself actually back in high school is another anxiety dream altogether.

  7. 7. Karen Wester Newton

    I sometimes dream stories—I’m not in them and they’re often futuristic/otherworldly—but unfortunately, they’re usually just fragments. Only one has ever panned out to a full-fledged story.

  8. 8. Josh

    I recently had a dream that I got a rather insulting rejection that trashed any hope I had for a writing career. I remember the story that got rejected, the agent who sent it, and the horrible feeling I woke up with…then the relief at realizing it was just a dream. Gee…what could I be fretting about in the dark corners of the brain?

Author Information

Lyda Morehouse

Lyda Morehouse is the author of the science fiction AngeLINK series. She's won the Shamus and the Philip K. Dick Special Citation for Excellence (aka 2nd place). Her books have also been nominated for the Romantic Times Critics' Choice and preliminary Nebula ballot. She lives in the deep-freeze of Saint Paul, MN with her partner of twenty-odd years, their son, and lots and lots of cats (and fish!) Visit site.



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