Finding Inspiration in Dreams
with Amy Bonnaffons
Wake up to your dreamworld.
Our dreams carry rich and crucial information that many of us ignore or don’t know how to access. For artists and writers, a wealth of imagery and narrative lies in our dream-life—but many of us have been told that our dreams are boring or “not real,” and so we’ve cut ourselves off from this rich source of knowledge and inspiration.
In this 6-week workshop, we will develop a closer relationship to our dream-life, and we’ll use our dreams as portals into a deeper writing-life. Everyone will keep a dream journal throughout the workshop; each week we’ll share and discuss some dreams from the group, do a guided meditation to further explore imagery from our dreams, and generate writing based on what we encounter in the dreamworld. Each week will also include readings and a generative writing exercise to do at home. We’ll share our writing in a supportive, nonjudgmental space and encourage each other’s writing processes.
Our feedback on each other’s work will be process-oriented: rather than a traditional “critique”-based workshop, we will approach our work the way we approach our dreams–by asking where the most energy is, drawing closer to the mysteries humming beneath the surface, and asking perceptive questions that encourage the work to clarify its own intent and draw closer to full realization. We will treat our work like the living entity it is, with respect and curiosity.
This workshop is for you if you are interested in dreams generally, or curious about how to access deeper levels of subconscious inspiration for your writing. We will be doing guided meditations using some techniques from shamanic dreamwork; it will help to be a bit spiritually curious, but no particular spiritual orientation or background is necessary!
You will leave this class with a deeper relationship to your dream-life; strategies for generating new work based on your dreams; and written and verbal feedback on a work-in-progress.
Learning and Writing Goals
In this class, you will:
- Learn several techniques for generating new pieces of writing based on dream imagery
- Access a deeper relationship with your dreams and subconscious mind, and the imagery contained therein
- Learn specific craft techniques to utilize dream-logic in your storytelling
- Get feedback on your work and learn to offer generative, process-oriented feedback to others
- Nurture a deeper relationship with your own wild imagination
In this class, you will:
- Begin several new pieces of writing through generative exercises
- Receive written and verbal feedback on at least one piece of writing from instructor and students
Zoom session will be held on Thursdays from 7-9:30 P.M. U.S. Eastern Time. Each Zoom session will be 2.5 hours. The basic structure of the sessions will be as follows:
- Dream sharing (share a dream with a partner and together come up with some questions/insights about the dream) [30 minutes]
- Guided meditation (visualization helping your imagination connect again with imagery from the dream) OR in-class writing exercise utitlizing imagery from dreams [30 minutes]
- BREAK [15 minutes]
- Sharing of writing [1 hour 15 minutes]
- For the first class, this will involve optional verbal sharing of material that comes up in the free-write
- For subsequent classes, this will involve more structured feedback sessions on student-submitted works-in-progress (2-3 students per session)
- Discussion of assigned reading will be folded into our discussions of student work; when there’s extra time or when students request it, we’ll have deeper and more focused discussion of the readings.
Prior to Week 1:
Begin dream journal
Reading from Toko-pa Turner’s Belonging
Week 1: Listening to Dreams
Readings from myself, Helen Rubinstein, Franz Kafka
Exercise: Shape a dream into a story/poem/essay, without adding anything.
Week 2: Noticing Patterns
Readings from Vladimir Nabokov, Kazuo Ishiguro, Linda Hogan
Exercise: Create a dream inventory and begin a short piece based on recurring images.
Week 3: Playing with Image
Readings from Alison Bechdel, Aidan Koch, Kim Krans
Exercise: Use Google Image to create a story (exercise will be demonstrated in class) OR create a dream comic.
Week 4: Dream Logic
Readings from Sabrina Orah Mark, Leonora Carrington, Jorge Luis Borges
Exercise: Choose a setting from a dream and explore it using dream-logic.
Week 5: Plot, Character and Agency in Dream-worlds
Readings from Reginald McKnight, Haruki Murakami, Zach Williams
Exercise: Write a 1-3 page monologue from the perspective of a character from your dreams.
Week 6: Wrap-Up
This is the last day of class, so there won’t be assigned reading or exercises after this, but I will leave you with supplemental exercises and readings to do on your own time.