“No Ma’am, I am not a Graveyard Digger…” Dreams and Writing

My dear wife reported that I awoke in the middle of the night last week, perched on an elbow and declared: “No Ma’am, I am not a Graveyard Digger.” I can neither confirm or deny these allegations as I was not completely there but it does not surprise me as I am known for my nighttime ramblings. I have no idea the dream which would cause me to make this real declaration as I don’t often remember my dreams but it must have been interesting to say the least. I also can’t say that I would deny the opportunity to dig graves but like most, it is likely a fading profession-soon replaced by machines, if not already.

The point of this is not about such morbid thoughts, so don’t turn the page yet, this is about dreams and writing. How many of you remember yours and how many of you could capitalize on them? I attempted to develop a system over the years of capturing my late-night epiphanies in one place for later exploitation but have on the whole, come up short. So many nights, at least once a month, I wake with the feeling of sheer pleasure, knowing that my mind has created pure gold in the form of a story, a narrative, theme, and setting so good-I must remember. That is what my lazy, half-conscious self says anyway as my tired body refuses to make the necessary marks on the page that would garner me millions from the proceeds of the sale of such a golden parchment.

As it turns out, there are many people interested in a thing called Lucid Dreaming. A kind of helpful tactic to do this is to have an anchor, a declaration before bed and a thing called a Dream Journal, as described in an article by Rebecca Turner. I may have difficulty sleeping with an anchor in my bed, all married jokes aside. In my search for answers, I discovered the World of Lucid Dreaming website and some other folks who care about dreaming and remembering what they dream.

I have used the notebook and pen by the nightstand method, the recorder by the nightstand method and realized that so far, these preparations are useless. As anyone who has slept nearby my person knows, I sleep like an angry ninja bear with cat reflexes and do not enjoy disruptions. This is what I consider writing or recording my dream in the middle of the night, a disruption.

I want to get back to the action before it is gone when what I need is to capture the thought, the moment, the theme and setting. Of course, I could spend more money at the problem and go buy this very useful gadget, a Neuroon sleep mask, which seems like another wonderful piece of wearable tech but that would just be throwing small cardboard confetti at a speeding bus.

I believe there might be something here for writers with the sleep journal, training your mind before you go to bed, remembering them when you wake up. I also find that if I watch that evil glow box before slumber, which has morphed into my Kindle Fire on the nightstand, I usually dream less than if I just fall asleep naturally or read (what I should be doing).

Ever since my parachute accident and surgery last year, I have had a hard enough time just sleeping. I lost several of my favorite sleeping positions and often wake even more startled, if that was possible. The common notion is to get a new, fancy pillow, go to bed at 8pm instead of 11pm, or buy a Sleep Number Bed or million dollar sheets, but that doesn’t necessarily provide the change I am looking for. I want to stay an angry ninja bear, I just want to be able to alter my dream and write about it later.

How do you remember your dreams? Have you ever come up with the best movie idea, invention, or solved the world hunger problem only to feel the emptiness of loss in the morning? Have you ever talked or walked in your sleep and pillaged your own house? Do you have any suggestions for not sleeping like an angry ninja bear? Help please, before the next full moon and I lose another great book idea! Before it’s…too….late….


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