Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Hypnopompic and Hypnagogic Writing


I've long been aware that, for me, those dreamy half-waking, half-sleeping moments that bookend a good night's sleep are amazingly fertile ground for creativity.  These are the moments for waking dreams, when my subconscious pulls together any number of scenes and experiences from my waking life and turns them into something strange and wonderful and full of amazing, if incomprehensible, detail.

Thanks to Michael Quinion and World Wide Words, I now know the proper terms for these dream states: Hypnopompic is the morning dozy dreaming  -- those moments when you know you should get up but just aren't quite ready. Hypnagogic, on the other hand, is the not-quite asleep moment, when you're just "resting your eyes,"( Zen reading, as we call it around here) nodding over an open book with closed eyes.

Both of these states can be useful to a writer -- if said writer has a bedside notepad and pen -- and the strength of will to use them.  I often use the moments when I've turned off the light to lie there and think about the point at which I left my work in progress and try to imagine what the characters will do next. Sometimes -- if I don't fall asleep and if I can turn the light back on and write down my thoughts -- that hypnagogic trance has solved a knotty problem for me. 

I may remember the ideas in the morning -- but not reliably, alas. Undoubtedly some of my best ideas disappeared never to return, because I decided to trust my memory rather than turn the light on.

The morning hynopompic minutes are equally useful -- and easier to remember, as long as not too much comes between getting out of bed and getting back to the WIP.

Before I had these marvelous words, I  always called these moments "juicy" states of mind." Whatever they are, I really enjoy them.


14 comments:

Thérèse said...

A voice recorder would be useful perhaps?
Two new words for me but not two new concepts.

Ms. A said...

My dreams used to be an excellent way to solve problems, now I can't remember them. The moment an exterior light comes on, the internal light goes off.

Jean Baardsen said...

Interesting post. I'm well aware of how fertile early morning can be, but I never considered the time before falling asleep. I'll try to pay more attention!

Barbara Rogers said...

I used to love going back to sleep for the dreams of morning, more pleasant and easier to remember than throughout the night. I've dropped the practice lately. WIP isn't in my vocab, but I figured it out!

Tammy said...

Interesting to find out these words even if I probably can't pronounce them. :-) I've always had 'over active' dreams. Sometimes I remember, sometimes I don't, but I do know they usually are very detailed and sometimes quite interesting. I don't think I'd ever be able to get awake enough to write them down though.

Tammy

katy gilmore said...

Love this post - a peek at the Vicki process. We do Zen reading here also - "just resting my eyes." I'm glad to know these words - and loved your images which seem to capture the states you describe.

NCmountainwoman said...

Two new words for me. My husband must pop out of bed the instant he awakens. I love lying there snoozing and enjoying my hypnopompic moments.

Yolanda V. Fundora said...

Thank you for giving words to two states I enjoy enormously... and use to create images when the body cooperates. I started a series of images and have called it Open Source. Love your images too.
thank you Vicki.

Jim Egerton said...

Now I know what these moments are called. It usually comes after I put down whatever book I am reading and close my eyes. The story keeps going and not like what I read late.

Love the layered pictures Vicki. What software are you using please?

Vicki Lane said...

Jim, The only picture software I have is PICASA - a free download which has lots of useful stuff including a collage function.

Jim Egerton said...

Thanks Vicki, I have it but never used it. It is a fast way to collage

Darla said...

I'd never heard the word "hypnopompic" before - cool. :-) I recently bought a cheap little digital voice recorder for this purpose of making note of ideas and my dreams since my note-taking has been historically abysmal. ;-)

Frances said...

Vicki, thank you for letting us know about these wonderful words. If they had fewer syllables, I might be able to more easily remember them.

But moving on. I experience a visual version of what you describe. If I have been working on a drawing, painting, or even some sort of knitting, and it's time to turn out the lights, I like to sort of bid a nite nite to my trying to find a way to solve a visual problem, or to continue working on a pleasant route.

And...do you know, sometimes, as the time for the alarm clock's beep nears, and I drift away from dreamland, I am often aware that some sort of visual adventure has been going on. When I am lucky, I wake up quickly enough to hold on to some of what developed overnight.

Isn't the mind a wondrous place, and dreams a wonder resource.

xo

Brian Miller said...

i keep a notebook by the bed...and have even figured out how to write in the dark, just enough to capture the thought...sometimes it takes a little interpretation in the morning..ha