7 ways in which sleep can help writers

Sleep is one of those basic necessities without which none of us can survive. People usually consider sleep so important that if given the chance, many would make it their personal hobby (many already have). The importance of sleep can be justified by anyone, but to truly understand the ways in which we can gain the most out of sleep, we need to turn to those who look at sleep as a source of inspiration and imagination.  We, as writers, can truly tap into the reservoir of our subconscious and gain inspiration for our next literary piece. Moreover, even the state of sleeplessness can help propel a writer into the zone of method writing where thoughts (usually demented and incoherent ones) come together to form something truly wonderful or even morbid.

Here are some of the ways in which writers can tap into this daily activity that so few of us take seriously:

  1. Recollection of thoughts

You would probably wonder why recollecting thoughts is necessary, but for writers and artists, it’s like filtering the best out of the pile of thoughts considerations they have accumulated throughout the day. Not every opinion is the best one, so starting from daybreak, it is quite necessary to ponder which ones can be used for creation and which ones can be thrown into the inaccessible recesses of the unconscious mind. Sleep is a very good time to do so, where the mind can be trained to routinely go through the myriad thoughts and instances that one has encountered throughout the day, and actually holding on to the ones which you feel are right. It is not very difficult though and making it a habit can actually help a lot. It reflects the depth of one’s thinking and can actually help you understand yourself as well as your choices better. Once you have filtered the good ones, you just need to slide under the quilt, close your eyes and drift off.


  1. Dreams

Deep into the darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before:     Edgar Allan Poe

There are thousands of writers seeking inspiration from dreams. Dreams can more than often form the foundations of some of the most beautiful creations of artists. For one, they simply do not have their limits and they help you to uncover and build into the stories of your subconscious mind. This is where all the madness and the beauty lies; it is only after waking up one realizes she/he was in a different world. Dreams make one feel alive and live every fear that one has repressed inside of them. It can really help a writer to know how to peek into and embrace dreams, and then pen them down. So next time when you go to sleep, do not forget to keep your diary under the pillow!

  1. Lucidity

It is the literal meaning of living a dream. Unfortunately, only a handful of people knows how to master their dreams. Imagine being the ruler of a place where time runs slow and you get to do anything you want. Writers can manipulate reality as they want to visualize it. Visualization is the most powerful tool for writing and lucid dreaming is a practice which is synonymous with a simulator for individuals to create their own realities and live the impossible. Switching off while sleeping is always an option, but a more exciting one would be to be passionate enough to love the darker side of one’s dreams. Think of the power one can harness by actually manipulating and becoming conscious in their dreams. Soon, you will realize that the waking reality can be made as creatively interesting as one’s lucid realities.


  1. Mind Reset

Sleep is the reset procedure for the stress that one accumulates along the course of the day. It is quite necessary to get a good night’s sleep before starting off with a better tomorrow. It actually happens (not only for those who write) that we may get brainwashed after waking up and come to find that most of the mental baggage that we accumulated has been cast out. This is usually the best time to start writing as you are literally a blank slate at this time.

  1. The Practice of WUAR

I once read Margaret Atwood’s book “Negotiating with The Dead”. There was this second chapter named: “The Jekyll hand, the Hyde hand, and the Slippery Double”. It speaks of the alter ego, the dual personality of the writer or, as some would call it, the evil doppelgänger. There is a simple way in which you can get the slippery double out of you. Just wake up in the middle of the night, and amidst the distorted sense of sleep deprivation and mid-dream remembrance, put your pen to the work. Once you read what you have written in the morning, you can get a whole new perspective out of it; a feeling like it was not you who wrote it but your slippery double. So, Wake Up And Read and then in the morning admire the awesomeness that the darkness within you holds.

  1. The Much-Needed Drug

Sleep is a drug; it’s an addiction as we know it. there are several authors who had their own poison to tune them into the zone of complete creative isolation. A better option that is readily available to us, without the need of dealing with shady drug dealers is, of course, sleep. Wake up early in the morning and without getting off your bed, write witlessly. You’ll see what you write will be as beautiful as the morning itself. This is when your mind is free of materialistic hustle, the breeze has some coldness in it, you feel dizzy because of the transition from the reality within to the reality without, and it is that time when you are most desperate to get the drug. Use the hangover to materialize something beautiful in the form of writing; that is when writing becomes the drug.


  1. Free Association

Free association is basically a technique used for psychoanalysis. It does not necessarily require sleep per se as it can be done anywhere, at any time but, I prefer to do it at 4 o’clock in the morning when nothing else can interfere in your flow of thoughts and your head is just reeling from the last REM cycle. All you have to do is place a pen to the paper and let your hand do the work, without worrying about the content and grammar mistakes. It’s a technique used by many writers as everything you write comes from the subconscious. It might get insane, insensible and grammatically incorrect but in the end after you finally wake up in the morning and edit it, you will not believe  that it was you who wrote it (or maybe it was Hyde).

Image Sources: [1], [2], [3]

Further Tripping…

To know about how the science of sleep can actually help us channelize our emotions into writing, click this text

About Dikshant Chauhan

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