No, I do not intend to learn how to track down terrorists who kidnap my daughter, but I suppose that could be helpful should I ever start a family.
I was thinking more along the lines of enhancing my creativity, making better use of my free time, and learning to write in any circumstance. After all, when I finally am able to go back to work, I won’t have all this time for writing, but I don’t want to cut down on the amount of writing I’m doing.
Hence the need for this very particular set of skills.
As it is, story ideas are forever bouncing around in my brain. The trick is to harness the best of them, expand them to from mere concept to more fleshed out stories, and then convert them from thoughts to page. Not only will this put more projects into motion, but it will also free up brain space for new ideas.
What I’ve realized, after a month of social distancing, staying at home, and not being around other people is that I’m very good at writing in my sleep.
When I’m tossing and turning in bed at night, unable to fall asleep because there’s so much on my mind and sitting on the couch all day doesn’t really make me tired, I try to focus my muddled, stressed thoughts on my current work in progress.
Once I am able to rein in my thoughts, I put myself into the story with the characters, and just play out the next scene in my head.
I’ve been doing this for years on runs or long walks, and it’s always helped the creative process. So why not apply it to all that time wasted in bed at night while trying to fall asleep? Think of all the writing I can accomplish!
It’s working well so far. I manage to drift off, thinking about my story, and if I’m really lucky, I’ll dream about it.
Let me throw in a warning here. Dream writing is a whole new ball of wax. You probably don’t want to use anything from your dreams because, if your mind works like mine, you’ll come up with some pretty freaky stuff in your sleep.
Sometimes, I get off easy. My characters are just played by real life actors or people I know, which puts a different spin on the story.
Other times, though, things quickly fly off the rails. Suddenly, my characters are in my dorm room with me as I wake up late on the day of final exams. Or my characters watch me wander aimlessly along a subway platform as I try to figure out how to get home.
In worst case scenarios, the female lead turns into my ex-wife, who immediately divorces me, and I spend the rest of the story begging her to take me back. Or the scene is interrupted by the mysterious masked figure who stands at the foot of my bed and plots to kill me in my sleep.
Essentially, my work in progress morphs into my recurrent nightmares.
There have been cases, however, where I’ve managed to turn a weird dream into a story. One of the screenplays that we might be doing a Zoom table read for soon was based on one of my nightmares.
I managed to take the nightmare and build an entire screenplay around it. My nightmares are usually too horrifying or depressing to use for a story, so it was great that one of them could finally be put to use.
But back to the whole writing in my sleep thing…
I’ve found that if I fall asleep thinking about a scene, it’s all still there in my mind when I wake up in the morning. Apparently, I always remember to save my progress before drifting off to sleep. That’s perfect because I can fire up the laptop and get right to work on that day’s pages.
No more wasting time trying to figure out what I’m going to write, or what happens next.
And that was the whole point of developing this very particular set of skills! I’ve managed to squeeze more writing time into my day, and optimize the time I’ve been able to carve out for writing. There’s nothing worse than wasting time with writer’s block!
Not that I’ve mastered that, it’s time to move on to developing my Jedi powers.
As soon as I’m done with this post, I’m going out onto the front porch to practice moving the chairs around with the Force.
Social distancing is going to be so much easier once I can use the Jedi Mind Trick to make people stay at least fifteen feet away. Would it be wrong to Force choke anyone who gets too close or refuses to wear a mask around me?
What special skill or new talent would you like to master during this stay at home period?