Few realize the way dreams have shaped our world. I'm not talking about the aspirations of visionaries, but the literal dreams people have had while sleeping. If you are like most people, your dreams are forgotten within moments of waking. Here are some tricks to help you capture – and make the most of – your creative power.
Trick One - Stay in Bed
The average human spends one third of their life sleeping. Twenty percent of that time is spent dreaming. Dreams are a good source of new material for writers, but how can you capture them? The first step is to stay in the half-awake state for just a few moments longer. Keep your eyes closed. Think about your dream. Try to run through it from beginning to end; this will help you remember it later.
“I woke up from a very vivid dream,” says Stephenie Meyer on her website regarding the origination of her book, Twilight. “Though I had a million things to do, I stayed in bed thinking about the dream.” Later that day she penned it in its entirety. Readers will recognize it as the now-famous meadow scene.
Trick Two – Write It Down
Otto Loewi nearly failed to capture the dream that led to his earning the Nobel Prize. He dreamt of an experiment that would prove once and for all how nerve impulses were transmitted. He woke up long enough to scribble his idea on a scrap of paper, but the next morning couldn’t read his own handwriting. The day that followed was, he later said, the longest of his life because he could not remember his idea. When he dreamed of it the following night, he jumped from bed and went straight to the lab to conduct the experiment that made medical history.
Take a lesson from Loewi. Write legibly or use a computer to record the details of your dreams.
Trick Three - Look Deeper
Don’t be afraid to look for a deeper meaning in your dreams; the answer to a problem may be just under the surface. Albert Einstein dreamed he was sledding down a hill at night, faster and faster until the stars blurred as he reached the speed of light. This dream gave birth to his Theory of Relativity.
Trick Four – Expand and Expound
Robert Louis Stevenson gleaned many plots from dreams, most notably that of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. His wife related how, one night, Stevenson cried out so horror-stricken that she roused him. “Why did you wake me,” he protested, “I was dreaming a fine tale!” She described how the next morning he awoke exclaiming, “I have got my chilling shocker, I have got my chilling shocker!”
Stevenson discovered he could dream complete stories and go back into the same dream on succeeding nights. If you have a dream you want to expand upon, or a plot in which you have reached an impasse, think about it as you fall asleep. You may be surprised when you wake with more material or a solution!
Keep your eye out for the second half of this article next week. I'll reveal the 5th and 6th tricks as well as ways to apply these techniques to your writing!