Most people know whether they’re morning people or night people. I’m pretty sure I’m a hybrid. I love early mornings, but I also like to stay up late. Of course, it’s pretty hard to be both ways for long before you crash and burn and have to catch up on sleeping, which I also enjoy.
And despite the fact that I enjoy mornings, I’m not usually one of those ultra early risers. That changed when I read Robert Olen Butler’s book From Where You Dream. This book had a huge influence on my approach to writing.
Art does not come from what you know – the mind, Butler says. Art comes from the place where you dream. Art comes from your unconscious; it comes from the white-hot center of you. Do not “will” the work, Butler says. Write when you feel it’s coming from your unconscious. Butler’s instructions reminds me of how writer John Gardner described novels as “vivid, continuous dreams.”
I was intrigued by what Butler had to say about writing in your “dream state.” I wanted to see how my writing could be different with this approach. I wanted to be more committed to a daily writing practice. Like most writers who juggle writing along with full-time jobs and all the other stuff in life, I had been thinking about my schedule and how I could increase my writing time. I knew writing first thing in the morning was my best chance to write every day before other events or interruptions could interfere — best laid plans and all that. I was ready to put myself in a trance. Read more