Do you ever have moments when you’re writing and the words seem to flow out of you endlessly? Your writing is genuine and it’s almost like you are living your words as you write them, feeling all the emotions that they evoke. These words are coming straight from your heart and are a perfect example of when you are in a deep state of inspiration.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen all the time, and there are moments when the writing feels empty and forced. In these situations, both you and your readers can tell that the feeling is just not there.
Luckily for us, there is a solution to our dry spell: dream journaling! If done correctly, this can prove to be a reliable source of inspiration.
Access Your Subconscious Mind
Surrealist artist, Salvador Dalí, had a process for incorporating his dreams into his art, known as, “slumber with a key”. Sitting on a bony chair, he would hold a heavy key in his hand over a plate positioned underneath on the floor. As Dalí would enter a sleeping state, his hand would relax, dropping the key unto the plate causing him to immediately wake. Right before waking, you enter a dream-state similar to REM sleep where your mind forms creative concepts that it may not realize when you’re awake. By doing this, Dalí was able to keep the imagery fresh in his mind and use this as the source of inspiration for his art.
While dreaming, the rational part of our mind takes a back seat leaving more room for our creative mind to fully express itself. Simply put, our dreams allow us to fully access our subconscious, which is our deepest source of inspiration and creativity.
What is a dream journal, anyway?
It is as it sounds: a journal of your dreams. Keep a blank journal and pen near your bed, so that you can write in it as soon as you wake up; literally, as soon as you wake. Dreams are quick and don’t wait for anyone. If you decide to brush your teeth or eat breakfast before writing, you’ll soon learn that you won’t remember any of your dreams.
Keeping a record of your dreams not only makes them easier to recall, but also sends the message that your dreams are important. You will better understand your thoughts and emotions, learning more about yourself and your personality. You’ll even get new ideas for your creative projects! Dreams are a reliable source of insight and endless stream of inspiration. It is important to remember that dreams communicate with us in a special way and you shouldn’t interpret everything literally. Instead, focusing on the symbolism within your dreams is the best way to decipher their meaning.
10 Tips for Keeping a Dream Journal
Just as dreams vary from person to person, so do the techniques. Keep in mind, there are methods that work better for others, that may not be right for you—find (or create) the ones that work best. Below are simple steps to take for those who are new to dream journaling.
1. Pick a journal that speaks to you and use this specifically for dreams. It doesn’t matter if its leather-bound or a spiral notebook, just make sure it speaks to you and is dedicated only to your dreams.
2. Keep your journal, and a pen that is pleasurable to write with, next to your bed. You want the journal to be the last thing you see before you go to sleep and the first thing you see when you wake. Consider getting a book light or a pen with a light attached to it for those times when you’d like to record your dreams in the middle of the night.
3. Write about your day in your day journal prior to sleeping. Just take a few minutes to jot down who you spoke to, where you went, and what you did. Pay attention to your emotions and what moment(s) heightened your emotions (negatively or positively).
4. Set an intention to remember your dreams. If you are new to dream recall, you need to train your subconscious mind to remember them. Focus on your intentions before you go to bed each night. Better yet, write it down! It can be something simple like, “Tonight I will dream and I will be able to remember my dreams when I wake.”
5. Write your dreams as soon as you wake up. I know what it feels like to remember a dream for the first few minutes that I’m awake, only to have it completely vanish as I’m walking to the bathroom. When you first wake up, don’t move and keep your eyes closed for a few minutes to recall what you were just dreaming. Once you’ve remembered all that you can, go through it one last time before moving to grab your journal. If there is absolutely no way to write your dreams in the morning, then list the emotions you felt and images you saw. When you have more time later, you can use these words to fill in the blanks of your dream.
6. When you’re first starting out, don’t write everything down. You’ll find that even if you record your dreams immediately, you start to forget all the details as you go on. Instead, begin by writing keywords for every scene of your dream. When you are ready, write in present tense and focus on the most important details: your strongest emotions (also pay attention to how you felt when you woke up), the setting, and what happened in the dream. Try including as many details as you can. Cool fact about dreams: you’re not always the same person in them!
7. For better dream recall, wake up 2 – 3 hours earlier. I will admit, waking up anytime before my alarm goes off does not sound appealing. However, we experience the longest REM cycles during the last hours of sleep, and this is when we dream. By setting your alarm 2 – 3 hours before you normally wake, it will be easier to remember your dreams because you will likely be in the middle of a REM cycle. Otherwise, you can choose to wait until your usual wake-up time, but you may only remember the dreams you just had. (If you’re a more visual person, drawing your dreams may be easier).
8. Consider giving the dream a title. This forces you to create a theme for your dream and a potential story idea—who doesn’t like that? Say bye-bye to writer’s block!
9. Compare the dream to your waking life and what you wrote the night before. Do your dreams relate to a recent event in your waking life? Was there something or someone you saw during the day that appeared in your dream as well? This is important to note because your subconscious is making connections between your daily life and your dreaming one. You can also see how your dreams may influence the rest of your day.
10. Do this every night. The more dreams you record, the easier it will be to remember them. You’ll notice that with much practice, you’ll get more and more information from your dreams. Take note of any recurring emotions or themes, as this may indicate that there are things in your waking life that need your attention.
Now, get started, fellow writer, and happy dreaming!
Have you ever kept a dream journal? If so, what techniques worked for you? Please share in the comments below!