Freelance Journalist, Editor, Copywriter and Author – Dubai

Vivid Dreams – a Side Effect of Writing a Book?

dream

I had a surreal dream last night. I was talking to what I assumed was a fellow human, only when I looked away and back at him again, his head had been replaced by that of a goat. Then Carrie from Sex and the City made an appearance. Only it wasn’t Carrie – it was Mr Big, but he had Carrie’s trademark long, curly locks, and he was wearing Manolos and a skirt. It didn’t feel odd at the time, but once I woke up and recalled the events in detail I was rather concerned for what this potentially meant about the state of my subconscious.

Then Carrie from Sex and the City made an appearance. Only it wasn’t Carrie – it was Mr Big, but he had Carrie’s trademark long, curly locks, and he was wearing Manolos and a skirt.

I realise that I’ve been dreaming a lot recently – or, more accurately, that I’ve been recalling my dreams more strongly. In my early twenties I dreamt a lot. I had a number of recurring ones. One regular that used to break me out in a sweat was the sight of massive jumbo jets falling out of the sky while I looked on, feet glued to the ground and unable to move because I was so shocked at what was happening. It was fairly easy for me to decipher this one – as an aerophobe, I was living out my worst nightmare.

Another one that I used to have was of me floating in the air, unable to get my feet back on the ground. Every time I’d somehow wrestle my way down, my feet would propel me back up like a spring, so I found myself floating around aimlessly, looking at the trees and buildings below me. I’m sure there’s some sort of Freudian explanation for this one, too, but I’ve not been able to figure it out.

Back then it was also fairly common for me to have premonitions in the form of dreams. One that comes to mind is of me walking through my local Debenhams and bumping into this ridiculously cute guy I knew from school who was shopping with his mother. I was horrified at having bumped into them, as I hadn’t bothered to wash my hair before I headed out and I was also wearing the faded, shapeless red sweater that I’d usually only put on when I was cleaning the house. In short, in the dream I felt and looked horrendous, and tried to avoid him, but he spotted me, so I said a sheepish hello and scurried out again.

The next day, this very scene was reenacted, only I wasn’t wearing the red sweater. My hair was greasy, though, and I had no makeup on, which was usually a no-go for me. I couldn’t believe it when I found myself in the very spot that I had dreamt of the previous night and was faced with the guy. I didn’t leave the house without makeup on for years following this incident.

Then, more seriously, I also had a premonition the night before the Mumbai shootings in 2008. In my dream, I was trapped inside a hotel and I remember water was being doused on the walls outside, although at the time I didn’t know why. The room I was in then went pitch black, and when the door opened I heard shootings and people screaming. The next day when the events in Mumbai unfolded, I remember seeing an image of a firetruck spraying liquid on the burning Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. I then realised that there was a link between what I had dreamt and what I was seeing on TV.

I went from someone who used to recall all her dreams very vividly, to someone who couldn’t remember a single one. This happened around 2008, the second year that I was living in Dubai, and to this day I cannot come up with a possible scientific explanation as to why. Perhaps they steal your dreams when you arrive at the airport…?

I went from someone who used to recall all her dreams very vividly, to someone who couldn’t remember a single one.

Recently, however, my dreams have come back with a vengeance. I see all sorts of random things, like the aforementioned human with a goat’s head, to various adventures in space, mind boggling buildings and the sorts. And I realised that I started recalling my dreams again when I began writing my book. I’ve also been reading a lot more – I’m currently on my 14th book of the year and counting. I decided that this will be the year that I’ll read at least 50.

I’m therefore coming to the very un-scientific conclusion that it’s my increased reading and writing that has something to do with it. Perhaps in the process of writing my memoir I’m exercising an area of my brain that’s also responsible for dream recollection. It’s also making me ever-hopeful that all of these random occurrences that happen to me in my slumber will help inspire a best-selling book idea. I can dream, right? (hardi-ha-ha!)

And while we’re at it, here are some other positive side effects I’ve experienced since I started writing a book:

  • I’m writing more overall. I can easily knock out a 800 word blog post within half an hour these days.
  • I’m also less scared to write. What I mean is this: in the past I’d sit and deliberate for ages over every single word that I was typing, whether I was writing an article or a blog post. I couldn’t bring myself to even write a sentence that was anything less than perfect, so I’d sit and type and delete things for ages. Writing a book has taught me that this process is totally useless. Type everything out and then edit – it’s as simple as that.
  • I’m finding story ideas everywhere. I’m so in tune with my reading/writing muscles that everything in my immediate environment has become potential book material. And it feels magical.
  • I feel happier. I experience an amazing sense of achievement when I complete my daily 2,500 words.
  • I feel positive and hopeful. Sure, nothing may come of this book project, but it’s a start and everyone has to start somewhere!

What side effects do you experience when you read or write more often?



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