Stories in the Head

I used to make up stories before I went to sleep every night. Usually I didn’t get very far. Sometimes I would barely arrange the scene before drifting off, and would start in approximately the same place on the following night. Serials, in a way, but I almost never finished one of those mental stories; certain moments of the story seemed to be enough to hold my attention, and I would even anticipate thinking about the story that night. Later, another story, or beginning scene, would flow in to take that one’s place, and the previous one would be all but forgotten.

I don’t do it any more. Why?

I can remember writing mental stories even in college, when I first really started to write stories down (only sometimes the mental ones). I may have done so for a while after graduation. I don’t remember, really. But now, and for nearly a decade, I hardly ever start a dreamy story. The closest I’ve come is rehearsing scenes, even down to certain wording, while walking around the city, writing them down when I got home. The change happened years before I first sold a story, so I don’t think becoming a selling writer caused the change.

Have I stopped because I put more stories on paper now, and that satisfies the urge? Because I’m too tired to think before sleeping? Because I’m getting older and my habits are changing? Because I don’t have time to think on the story outside of the increased time in which I am physically typing?

And I wonder what I got out of it, besides pleasure. Did I develop any writing skills that way? Does it matter? Because the pleasure of making stories ought to be enough.

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Related posts:

How To Write a Novel in 72 Easy Steps.

Zero drafting.

About Victoria Janssen

Victoria Janssen’s first erotic novel, The Duchess, Her Maid, The Groom and Their Lover (Harlequin Spice, December 2008), was translated into French and German. Her second Spice novel, The Moonlight Mistress (December 2009), was translated into Italian and nominated for a RT Reviews Reviewers’ Choice Award. Her third novel is The Duke & The Pirate Queen (December 2010). She has also published erotic short stories as Elspeth Potter. Her blog features professional writing and marketing tips, genre discussion, book reviews, and occasional author interviews.
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6 Responses to Stories in the Head

  1. Jeannie Lin says:

    I'm a big daydreamer/nightdreamer too. I suppose it's my version of pantsing because when I sit down to write, I plot, but the emotional core of where it all comes from is the daydreaming.

    I still do it. I need it to actually write. it's one of those intangibles of my process. Once in a while, I get a gift though. A scene that actually works and makes it into the draft. :)

  2. Victoria Janssen says:

    I'm wondering if a lot of that process for me is now unconscious.

    I miss it being conscious sometimes.

  3. JulieD says:

    I do it all the time, especially winding down for the night before i fall to sleep. If I'm having troubles sleeping, I do it consciously to start off, but otherwise, it's sort of dreamy and flows. Maybe you could try turning it back into a 'habit' each night by force-starting it and then letting the scene run it's course?

  4. Romantic Heretic says:

    Yeah, I do that all time. And have done that forever.

    I'm always dreaming up characters, creating settings and conflicts. Just the way I'm wired.

    Now if I could get back into the habit of writig them out. :(

  5. Victoria Janssen says:

    Hmmm, I wonder how tightly my conscious and unconscious story processes are intertwined?

    And if I investigate too much, will it disrupt the process?

  6. Kate Pearce says:

    I still make up stories in my head all the time, which is basically how I write my books :)

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