Lyndsey Garrett on dream journalling.

 

The mind loves the unknown. It loves images whose meaning is unknown, since the meaning of the mind itself is unknown.

René Magritte

*

Journaling has never been my strongest skill; there’s always a twinge of envy at the gorgeous scripts I see others maintain of their lives or daily routines. The brief attempts I made of diaries as a teenager were usually dull encounters with breakfast, lunch and dinner, somehow skirting all the interesting or emotional stuff that actually happened during the day. The same happened again when I attempted to keep a bullet journal, only partially succeeding with the tracking schedules you could setup.

Putting pen to paper always felt so concrete; once written down it couldn’t be taken back. The same fears about speaking in a group or reading on a stage would reappear when trying to write in a journal. I couldn’t be open with myself, let whatever thoughts that came to mind freely flow onto the page. Then, in late 2018, I was introduced to a journal form where I could reach that open connection with the page. Dream journaling.

Dreams are a way of the brain processing things it has experienced, both positive and negative. They often seem perfectly logical when we’re asleep only to be revealed as nonsense when we wake. Writing a dream journal feels almost like free writing, a process where you write non-stop for a period of time with whatever comes to your mind and without worrying about punctuation. With dream journaling it’s writing down what you remember whether or not it seems to make sense to you when you’re awake.

Dreams can provoke ideas for stories or poetry or even topics to explore in creative non-fiction, and a journal is a great way to record them for later reference. My own journal started as part of a poetry module assignment, a particular class studying surrealism and the idea of tapping into the creative potential of our unconscious minds. We were asked to keep a journal for a week and use its contents to form a poem; I’ve been keeping the journal ever since.

The pages I’ve filled are not a pretty sight, they’re the rushed five minute scribblings I can get down before I need to be up and getting ready for work. Often it feels like there’s always more detail I could add, but what makes it to the page are the instant memories and feelings of the dream. There’s no right or wrong way to keep a dream journal and writing something each morning feels like an achievement. There are many nights where I don’t dream, or I only have a vague feeling of dreaming without a distinct recollection. I still note those nights down. Even the absence of dreams can lend itself to poetry or prose.

I now have a box of these small journals which I keep beside my desk. When I experience a creative block or just need to do something different from the task at hand, I’ll pick up one of these journals and flick through it. Reading back on old dreams or vague recollections of feelings or colours has soothing effect, one that either sparks something for the piece I’m working on or just helps me relax. Not everything in those journals will make it into a piece of writing but the words are still enough to remind me that the mind can create some truly weird and fantastical scenes. Even the smallest detail can be enough to start a creative journey.

 


Lyndsey Garrett lives in London. She took a bit of a wrong turn after school and ended up as an accountant for the next several years. As a current Creative Writing BA student at Birkbeck University she’s now working hard to remedy that! Lyndsey was a Notable Contender in the 2017 Bristol Prize. She is a member of the Secret Garden Writing Club and manages the MIROnline Blog.

 


January 31, 2020

Blog: Dream Journal

Lyndsey Garrett on dream journalling.
December 20, 2019

Blog: Let the writing happen

Angèle Eliane looks at the pressure to be recognised as a writer and letting go as part of the creative process.
November 29, 2019

Blog: Going to the Fair

Lyndsey Garrett shares her experience of the Small Publishers Fair at Conway Hall.
October 25, 2019

Blog: MIR16 Final Thoughts

In her final MIR16 post, Elizabeth Lovatt reflects on the end of one journey and the long road still ahead
September 27, 2019

Blog: Imposter Syndrome

Lyndsey Garrett takes a look at Imposter Syndrome and how it can impact our writing lives.
August 30, 2019

Blog: MIR16 Short Stories

In her next blog instalment, Elizabeth Lovatt considers the short story form
July 26, 2019

Blog: MIR16 Endorsements

In her next behind-the-scenes instalment, Elizabeth Lovatt looks at how endorsements for a book are acquired
June 28, 2019

Blog: MIR16 Poetry

In her next blog instalment, Elizabeth Lovatt talks to Nise McCulloch about poetry and its relationship with the MIR16 theme of climate
May 31, 2019

Blog: MIR16 Shortlist and Selection

In her next behind-the-scenes instalment, Elizabeth Lovatt gives us an insight to the shortlisting and final selection process of MIR16
April 26, 2019

Blog: MIR16 Creative Non-Fiction

In her 3rd behind-the-scenes instalment, Elizabeth Lovatt examines creative non-fiction and how it fits with MIR16
March 29, 2019

Blog: Reading Submissions for MIR16

In her 2nd behind-the-scenes instalment, Elizabeth Lovatt looks at how the team reads and reviews submissions
February 22, 2019

The Mechanics of MIR 16

Exploring the theme and opening MIR16 to new submission types by Elizabeth Lovatt
December 7, 2018

Waiting to be inspired

Lyndsey Garrett discusses inspiration, themed writing and deadlines
November 20, 2018

Martin Nathan Discusses Writing about landscape

Martin Nathan looks at the use of online tools to construct landscapes in fiction
June 20, 2018

Time within a narrative

Martin Nathan on the application of time in narrative.
March 22, 2018

Poetry and Meditation Workshop

A review by Lyndsey Garrett
September 27, 2017

What’s in a writing group?

Anecdotal musings by Lyndsey Garrett