Monday, November 30, 2009


I've mentioned on several occasions that I get many of my ideas/titles/first lines/characters in that half drowsy/half awake state just before dropping off to sleep.
In fact, if I need to ponder a plot point or a conflict that isn't quite working, I'll take to bed, close my eyes and let my mind wander.
It's a great technique and often works. (Drifting off to nap is a bonus!)
Imagine my surprise when I recently discovered there's a technical term for this.
There is a naturally occurring sleep state called the HYPNOLOGIC STATE.
As I've already described, it is the phase of sleep right before you drift off and right before you wake up, and is a state of altered consciousness.
Apparently it's a highly fertile time for creative people!
The trick is to utilise this phase.
Ask yourself a question before you lie down. eg. What is the main obstacle keeping my characters apart?
Close your eyes.
Let your mind drift...doze...
But you must remember what happens in this state.
I've heard a recommendation to hold one arm up in the air, as the tension required to hold the arm up will keep you on the verge of that sleep/awake state, and as the ideas/concepts/connections come, you immediately write them down.
For me, I close my eyes, let the ideas flow, and jot them as soon as they arrive.
It's a tried and trusty plotting method for me.
Writers out there, have you tried it?
Does it work for you?


Lacey Devlin said...

Fascinating! I'll have to give it a whirl :D

Angie Peters said...

I didn't know there was technical term for this either! Sometimes I get my ideas at this time, but if I don't write them down straight away, I usually forget them.

But it doesn't work as well for me, or as often, as I would like. Do you need to train your brain to relax in order for this method to work, or is it mainly the work of the subconscious?

Thanks for posting this, Nicola. I'm going to make a concerted effort to try this technique more often.

Kerrin said...

I know i get most of my ideas just before i go to sleep and quite often i find myself jumping out of bed or reaching for the notebook beside my bed to jot them down - my husband thinks i'm mad but the best ideas do come then!

Nicola Marsh said...

Let me know how you get on, Lacey.

Nicola Marsh said...

I'm not sure about training your brain, Angie.

I think it's more of a subconscious thing, that as we enter that hypno state, our creative processes are freed?

Interesting stuff, huh?

Nicola Marsh said...

I now keep a little torch next to my notebook, Kerrin, because I used to write in the dark, then couldn't make sense of the scribble the next day!