Exploring Dreams as a Writer’s Tool

A report on two books by Diane E. Bokor

Isabelle Allende

Amy Tan

Stephen King

Anne Rice

William Styron

Sue Grafton

All of these successful writers have at least one thing in common.  They strategically use their dreams to enhance their writing. 

Through an odd set of circumstances and her own dream-work, Naomi Epel convinced twenty-six famous writers to share insights into how their writing and their dreams intertwine.  Epel’s book, Writers Dreaming, is a unique anthology and a fascinating read.

King and Rice confessed that a nightmare from childhood sparked scenes in their published stories.

King and Grafton confessed that often, before falling asleep, they beg their dreaming mind for help with plot problems.  And the process works.

Styron’s idea for Sophie’s Choice was sparked by a haunting dream fragment that lingered one morning as he awoke.

Allende and Tan use their dreams to visit supportive ancestors and to change their own life circumstances.

Some of the interviewed writers describe being able to put themselves into a dream-like waking state when writing. Steven King describes this “sort of semi-dreaming state” as a little bit like finding “a secret door in a room but not knowing exactly how you got in.”

By the end of the book, I was ready to hop into bed and start dreaming.

Another helpful book on this topic is The Dreaming Writer by Alicia Leigh (subtitled: Applied Dreaming).  The reader finds over twenty exercises from easy (cultivating daydreaming) to hard (generating lucid dreams).  At the back of the book there is a dream symbology dictionary with suggestions of how to use your own dream images in your writing. 

If you’re looking to use a new writing tool, something you already have available to you each night (and day), check out these book suggestions.

A Thanksgiving Wake-up Call

by Mary Frances Erler

In our modern world, we take so many things for granted.  A couple of weeks ago, the pump on our well stopped working.  All of a sudden, there was no water when I turned on the faucet.

A call to the well-driller brought the suggestion to shut it all down for an hour and then try to restart it.  So we did.  It worked, but then the same thing happened the next day!  Another attempt was made to reboot it with the hour-long shut off.

I realize our house is past ten years old, and nowadays that means things are going to break down.  Some of our appliances have already had to be replaced.  Not complaining.  It’s just life.

But this whole experience has made me realize how many things we do take for granted.  Like the water coming on every time we turn the faucet handle.  Or the lights coming on whenever I hit the switch.  Even my phone and my computer making it so much easier to do research and to write.

Many of us are old enough to remember the days of typewriters and rotary-dial phones.  (My first two books were originally typed on a manual typewriter!)  But I fear our numbers are dwindling.  What kind of things will our children and grandchildren never experience?  Kind of like how we (and often our parents) never experienced travel in a horse-drawn covered wagon, homes without indoor plumbing or electricity, and travel from Kalispell to Eureka taking days rather than under two hours.

Right now our well is working again, after the second reboot.  But I don’t take that water in my sink or shower for granted anymore.  I realize it could disappear any day now.

I think the timing of this wake-up call event was good, with Thanksgiving just around the corner.  I have a lot more things to be thankful for than I realized, and I hope to stop taking them for granted.

A Greenhorn?

by Laura Thomas Boles

 I’m not a Hunter, in fact never have been, I don’t even carry a gun!  Not that I’m opposed to them, just not something I’m in the habit of doing. But here I am being called a deer slayer! So funny to think of myself as that, for I’m a softie. I got my first buck without even trying, in fact he got me.

Yet the story I should tell is that I killed him with my bare hands. Or as my friend pointed out “There’s no bullet hole, good job!”  So much better than saying, he hit my truck and took out a side panel, costing me a thousand bucks! 

 I killed a deer, an experience I’ve never been a part of before. The task of processing the deer seemed, well, a major task. I think some of it was the fact of the emotions I was dealing with.  Sad that I killed the poor thing.  Mad because he caused damage to my truck.

 I’m a greenhorn completely, like I said never hunted, never been around it. I didn’t grow up with hunting and married a vegetarian, so like I said a complete greenhorn. So why take on the task of processing a deer? Well the way I see it, he cost me a lot of money and I was going to enjoy every bite! Kind of a revenge thing, but at the same time it seemed a shame to waste the meat.

 So call in friends.  Thank God for people who can and will help, who tolerate my greenhorn-ness.  Teach me how to grow in knowledge, as well as dealing with processing a deer.

The best part, and most memorable, was my daughter and two grandkids a part of this experience, working together to put the meat into the freezer as a team. There for a while my twelve-year-old granddaughter was making the typical pre-teen faces and saying “This is gross. I think I’ll become a vegetarian.” In the end, however, she even started to be a part in the whole experience.

Growth, overcoming the unknown. Allowing an experience to sink in and become a memory that will be a part in growing to be a whole person. Crazy the things I’m learning, so maybe I’m not such a greenhorn after all.

Sunday Falls


A late day in October found us wandering along a backroad. This particular backroad was leading us to our destination, Sunday Falls. We had decided to take this drive, for the day was sunny, though a bit chilly.  One could see their breath in the air, on this fall day. The colors of the trees were displayed in their full regalia, a slight breeze in the air making leaves quiver, giving the illusion of gold glitter, as the leaves caught the sun’s rays reflecting the light. We were following Sunday Creek up this road and finally found the trail that would lead us to the falls. Upon parking and dispersing from the truck, we could hear the voice of the waters as it moved. It was a medium sized creek and flowing fairly fast–green in color, but not real deep, for one could see the bottom clearly.

Moving up the trail, I was stuck by the sheer size and age of the trees, one person could not wrap their arms around their enormous old trunks. And so tall, as I craned my neck back to see, they were sweeping the very sky, swaying in the winds that play in the heavens. Climbing ever higher on the trail, as it wound its way deeper into the forest, following the creek, one could hear the rushing sound of the water as it cascaded over the rocks that formed the falls. At the end of the trail we were greeted by a green colored pool, created by the drift logs pushed over the falls, a natural dam. The pressure of the falls pushing the water ever forward, came between the logs and created mini falls.

Looking closer we discovered there were ice crystals, created by the splashing water and the crispness of the day. These crystals were formed along the side of the falls, clinging to the branches that were overhanging the banks. They were also on the drift logs at the end of the pool.  Each crystal was unique in its shape and size, some hanging, long in shape, some formed along the small limbs of the logs. Each created by the spray of falling water.  One could see the water droplets in these crystals as each had been formed.

This was a new experience for me, to witness the creativity and wonder of  nature and how the water formed these beautiful ice sculptures. We spent quite a bit of time in this place, reluctant to leave, knowing we would not have the same experience again.

November Book News


M.F. Erler announces the reveal of a brand new cover for the first book in her Sci-Fi series, The Peaks at the Edge of the World

The series have evolved through two updates and three cover stages, and she thinks this one reflects the excitement of the story more than any of the others. These books are available on Amazon, through First Steps Publishing, Barnes and Noble, local bookstores, and through the author herself – mferler@peaksandbeyond.com