#WritersLife: When Writers Dream of Characters in Their Novel

#WritersLife was the first thought I had when I woke.  But I couldn’t shake the deep depression taking control of me.  I felt an immense sadness.  It felt like I was so inadequate that I didn’t matter to anyone.  My life was so pointless and meaningless that no one would ever want to connect with me enough to care about my life.  My mind kept circling around about how shitty a human being I was and how it didn’t matter what I thought or felt.  My chest was heavy, shoulders sunken, and I could feel the length of my jaw pulling downward.  I had little energy.  Just enough to zombie through the last two days.


And it started with a vivid dream about a character, Jimena, in my novel, Unsettled Between.

I’ve never had a reaction like this before.  I’ve dreamt about characters and scenes and concepts for novels or short stories before (often in the waking moment between sleep and full consciousness), but I’ve never had such an emotional reaction.  It’s really odd and I’m still feeling remnants of it now.  Yesterday was the worst of it.

I’m not an emotional person.  I get sad, but I don’t tend to linger in it to a point I would call depression.  I’ve been depressed before, but I tend to force myself into tasks that help alleviate those feelings.  So when this feeling grabbed me over the last two days it was very alien, like someone else had stepped inside my body and had taken over.


The dream was about me interacting with a character, Jimena.  She’s not a major character in my novel but she’s important to certain stories in the collection.

In the dream, Jimena lead me from one place to another but it was almost like I was floating around her as opposed to her leading me.  It was like I took on her energy so she could act “normal” or front like she was okay.  I watched as she displayed happiness and confidence to people around her, but I carried her sadness.  That’s weird, isn’t it?  How could I carry sadness for her?

Another odd occurrence happened when I woke.  There was a lightening flash that lit up my bedroom.  It was so bright I thought it was storming outside.  We had rain the day before so I thought maybe storms had come in overnight.  But when I looked outside it was overcast but no storms.  The flash was like a strobe coming from inside my room–not outside.

Now I’ve carried this unbearable sadness with me for two days.  The depression is so harsh that I haven’t gotten on social media in the last two days.  I’m a junkie or have bouts of social media binges so going two days with no interest in social media is odd.  This is likely the case for many of us.


Initially, I tried to work this out as some residual part of my past, like something Jungian I hadn’t addressed.  But then suddenly I realized the character goes through something in the novel that was emotionally challenging for her.  But I didn’t give it the emotional weight.  Meaning, maybe I wasn’t honest enough about how much she hurt.  I wish I could tell you what specifically I’m talking about in the novel, but I’m going to have to wait until it’s released before I can put the two together.

Ultimately, I feel like I didn’t do her character justice and she came to me in my dream to show me how she felt. That sounds odd, I know.  But I can’t make sense of why I’d have these emotions associated to that dream about this specific character.  It’s the only conclusion I can draw.

In fact, I had to write my agent, who received my most recent draft a couple weeks ago.  I told her about the dream, and she gave me the green light to go back into the novel and revise Jimena’s portion.  I do feel better now that I can revise to Jimena’s liking.  But what an interesting emotional ride.  As a writer, I sometimes feel like I know how to pull details from my psyche to write about.  But this is a first.

Have you dreamed about a character in one of your story lines?  If so, what was your experience?  A part of me is desperately searching for kindred spirits.  I hope I’m not alone in this.  I’m hoping this is one of those #WritersLife hashtag moments.

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(Images were borrowed from wikimedia, wikipedia, and flikr)


  1. Me, too! I write very upbeat romances, but characters have to go through tough times or there’s no story. I can’t bear to end my writing day with my characters in a terrible state, though. I write just a few paragraphs ahead in the story so I can think about them being in a happier place or I get all moody! 🙂

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