Fall Asleep Writing (as close as it gets to elves!)

Here is a technique I use from time to time.

When I need to be REALLY creative, like when there’s a big problem to solve, and my normal process is not working… I go take a nap. But, I take a tape recorder to bed.

I lie down, holding the recorder. I begin to drift down to sleep. There is a space there, a zone, when you are close to sleep, but not sleeping… where you are still able to think about the problem at hand. When I get in that almost-sleep zone, I talk into the tape recorder. About the story problem.

One thought will send you to another thought, and the fact that you are in that near-sleep-zone makes you mind UNHOOK and be AMAZINGLY CREATIVE.

It sounds silly, but it works.

I lie there, drifting off to sleep, fighting the urge to fall completely asleep, talking and talking and going places that I never would be able to when fully conscious. Ideas flow and they are great ideas. Really great ideas.

Finally, I can’t do it any more and fall all the way asleep. When I wake up, I transcribe the notes. Some are pretty slurred, but understandable.

Last time I did it, I transcribed seven pages of single spaced notes. Some was useless junk. Some was staggeringly wonderful. Several huge problems had been solved. And I had no memory of any of it.

FYI, this is how Keith Richards wrote “Satisfaction.” Playing his guitar, getting sleepy, with a tape recorder running. At last, he fell asleep and when he woke up, on the tape, which he had no memory of, was a hit song.



Filed under Scenes, Screenwriting, Writing Process

8 responses to “Fall Asleep Writing (as close as it gets to elves!)

  1. That’s amazing! I’m really tempted to try this.

  2. I write in the early morning for this very reason. I begin to wake up at around 5:30, and in that hour or so between deep sleep and actual awake, I problem solve, or brain storm, or fight like hell to remember the nights dreams. I have never done it with a tape recorder though. Then I go straight to my computer and start typing. Plus, My daughter gets up for school at 8:00, and my wife is NOT a morning person and will avoid being awake any earlier than necessary at all costs, so, my house is quiet! Besides that, nothing good comes out after about 10am, or before happy hour…

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      I would think that it would work if you are using a pencil and paper as you were moving from sleep to awake. If you are using my method, where you are falling asleep… a tape recorder seems to be a must, in that stopping the drift downwards by pulling out something to write on would be too jarring.

      What’s cool is waking up and transcribing the tape and finding out what you said.

      Good luck with the technique and your writing!

  3. I’m defiantly going to give it a try… I’m already the king of naps so, if I can squeeze some extra creativity out of it by using a recorder, I’m all over it! Thanks for the tip, I’m looking forward to seeing what I get.

  4. Great post!

    This is something I would definitely like to try. While I’m engrossed in a project I’ll often have dreams about it, and sometimes I’ll wake up and make a run for a pen and paper to try to get down as much as I can remember before it all fades away.

    This could be the method that provides that missing link to make sense of everything when all is said is done.

    I actually used to have a little recorder that I used to record dialogue. The neighbors probably thought our family had some serious issues, what with all the yelling about transvestite love affairs, seedy drug deals, and talk of world domination. 🙂

  5. GypsyMan

    This is a form of psychic phenomenon when used correctly as well. You can see what you can otherwise not see. Not crazy either, even in the slightest. The human body is extremely complex, especially the brain. Only a 1/4 of it gets used, apparently, in mass of activity. Or does it? Think of first impressions. Are they crazy? How do you know you like or dislike, or even love them?

    You just do would be your standard answer.
    My answer is, wake up and smell your other senses. Ask a question about someone while performing this task. Try to put correctly the scene of where they are, or could be. This is where thought stops, and senses increase. How does it feel?

    When it feels as if you have latched on you will be concentrating rather hard, yet almost asleep. When you have your answer, I bet you’ll be asleep.

    Yeah sounds crazy, but, “When every life is as unique as every droplet of water in the oceans, there is no such thing as normal.” Might not be word for word but Marvel Comics character Nightcrawler said it. Wisdom from comics. Who knew.

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      Nice to know! Thank you for chiming in.
      Wisdom from comics… I’ve met Stan Lee, and he’s about nine times smarter than I am. I’m sure there’s heaps of wisdom there.
      Good luck with your writing!

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