Writing From Dreams, A How-To

A fair few writers get their ideas from dreams; how do they do it? 


I don’t know about you, but my dreams are rather random, filled with pink llamas (it’s best not to ask) and volcanoes that threaten to erupt whilst I frantically run around saving books*. Still, several of my stories have started from dreams. 

It’s all about the questions you ask and the perspective you take.

Even the strangest of dreams can be turned into stories by holding onto them from the moment you wake up (dreams are known to flee the moment you wake), and sorting through the emotions and images that ran wild in your unconscious mind.

This has to be done immediately as even the most vivid of dreams have a tendency to fade.

First, you must establish what had happened in the dream; where were you? What were you doing? Why were you doing what you were doing—was there something nearby catalysing your reactions? Who were you with? 

Write it down.

Now think of the emotions running through you, concentrate on them. How did you feel? How strong was the emotion? Did you wake up from something internal or external (like an alarm clock)? 

Write it down.

Think of what could have happened had you remained in the dream—were you going somewhere? Was something going to happen to you? Was there something near you? 

Write it down.

Next is the ‘what-if’ stage—here you have to ask yourself ‘what if’ this happened, or that happened? What if the pink llamas threatened to take over the universe? What if they were aliens? What if aliens infiltrated the minds of animals? 

Create a mind map or a flowchart wherein you can clearly visualise how one idea flows into the next—start in the middle of the page (or document) and branch out from there. Let each idea trigger the next. 

From there you must distance yourself from the ideas and see what appeals to you the most. Which of the things you’ve come up with excites you the most? If none of them excite you, it’s unlikely any will work in the long run—best try your luck another night! 

If, however, you do have an idea you love, that excites you and makes you want to run to your laptop and write, then do it (or plot, if you must)! Have faith in your thoughts and in your creation. 

Though your ideas may sound absurd to the next person, it’s what makes them unique and fun to write. Writing, after all, should be enjoyable—it should be something you love doing, not a chore! 

Have you ever written from a dream?

Thanks for reading,


*This was an actual dream and it was terrifying! 

Image from Dyaa Eldin.


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