The Power of Writing and Dreaming in Giving a Voice to the Unspoken Self


With the other side almost in reach I approach carefully hoping to sneak them out. But what if instead I toss my words over the border, or, what if I shout them out for everyone to hear. What would those words be, what message do I have that is so important, so urgent, so necessary and so powerful that I would risk my life for it. Do I have anything THAT important to say.

Writing and dreaming weave together in my day to day life.  Both form a bridge between my subconscious mind and the conscious, waking world that I inhabit. I first recognised the power of my dreams when, as a teenager I started keeping a dream diary. About this time I also recognised the power of writing – the power of translating my waking thoughts into words for me,  and others, to read.

I still write my dreams down from time to time,  but now even when I’m not recording them I like spend some quiet moments in the morning reflecting on them, taking the time to look at what they could be saying about my life,  about me. I see them as gentle guides, revealing feelings and reactions that I may not even realise I am having. In this way dreaming helps me to look at my subconscious.  My writing works in a similar way and a recent dream I had highlighted this, showing just how much both writing, and dreaming, can help to shine the light hidden aspects of my mind.

As I woke from this particular dream I found it was already slipping away from me. I lay there quiet and still, holding onto what I could of it. Then, with my coffee, freshly made, my pen and paper beside me I sat down and started writing it out.

I was filled with a sense of urgency. I was also deeply, deeply afraid. Adrenaline surged through my body. I was responsible, in my dream, for getting a message to a place of safety, across the border, and away from the regime I was living under. This task was dangerous and I was being chased throughout the city. The streets were dark and narrow and I was having to navigate my escape route carefully to avoid detection. It was imperative that I got this message, this piece of paper out, and I was prepared to risk my life for it.  

This dream, I could see was about the power of words. The power of words to reveal the truth, to prompt change, to overthrow. And whilst nothing I write in reality is about to put my life at risk I still, find myself feeling nervous, uncertain and at times scared about putting my words out there. Am I revealing too much, I worry, am I going to be judged for this, rejected or scorned.

Like remembering a dream my writing also starts with feeling. The feeling grows if I pay attention to it, but if I ignore it often it will slip back into the recesses of my mind, or even disappear altogether. So when they occur, these feelings, these quiet murmurings, I try to notice them, to see what they have to say. By paying attention words start build around them and they become more solid, more nameable. Then sentences develop and it becomes something more as I start to write it in my head. I can try and hold it, but unless I put it down in form, on paper or in text then it can slip away, too easily.

And that is what I am beginning to see as the important part- that I as a writer take the time to ensure these beginnings get a chance to grow, get a chance to take material from.  This is the only way to actually see what the piece of writing is about. To see what it has to say and where it might point me too.

It is also the way with both writing and dreaming that I can start off thinking that I know what’s happening, and what direction things are travelling in, only to realise part way through that my journey is not at all what I expected. I have heard people who write fiction talk about this time and time again. The actions of a character are not really theirs to decide or dictate. Somewhere, it seems, in the writing process the subject  becomes formed enough to determine their own course of action.

At times when I write I feel a similar way, I am caught in the spell of the words coming from within. Something new, and honest is revealed at these times as if almost by magic. And when this happens I have to write as much as I can. Not reading it as I go, not judging it, or thinking about what might happen to it later. These times are just for writing.

And when it’s time to edit I try do so in the knowledge that what I have written has its own sense of agency- its own purpose. It exists beyond me. I have to allow those deepest feelings, shifting shadows, and initial murmurings to form into the words that they were meant to be. They have their own story to tell. Have I kept my own ego, my own judgement, and fears out of the way long enough to enable this idea to become all it can be.

And now I get my dream.

As a writer I am struggling under my own, personal censor. Part of me will police what is written and try to decide what is shared, and exposed. It will often judge it as being unworthy, insignificant or simply not good enough. I can never be sure who will read what I write, or what impact my words may have, but that is not the point. My job is to write and as a writer I must try to bypass security, sneak past the censor and get the words out before being caught. Or the words and the story they have to tell may be lost forever.


4 thoughts on “The Power of Writing and Dreaming in Giving a Voice to the Unspoken Self

  1. Jo, you said it so succinctly. The last paragraph is the struggle of all writers I am sure, and it is never finished, there is always more. We do wonder, will people read it, is it good enough. Your honesty is so refreshing and being willing to be vulnerable brings the truth to the surface where people can relate to us. Bless you! Anita


  2. I read what you write, every word, often more than once. It’s impact. ..? I am opened up. Thank you for writing. Gayle


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