Did you know dreaming can improve and boost creativity. History is replete with writers who have dreamed their characters or stories to life.

Remember Frankenstein; author Mary Shelley, spent the night conversing about ghosts and relating stories and experiences about the ideologies of life. Through the night whilst dreaming her thoughts coalesced in her mind to form the famous Frankenstein. Keeping her dream fresh, the next morning she began to write.

Other writers like Charlotte Bronte and H.P Lovecroft and yours truly have had inspiration strike in the dead of night. In my experience, I felt a strong urge to pen my dream the following day. It resulted in the War Machine – a short prose which I have since entered into a competition.

The likes of Stephen King and Stephanie Meyer also brought to life their dreams. Misery was literally dreamed up when King fell asleep on a flight and Twilight became a best-seller from Meyers dream.

We, authors, aren’t the only ones who use our dreams for creative inspiration. James Cameron and Einstein did. The common denominator is, although all these examples have come to fruition whilst we were asleep; it seems the person had already been thinking consciously about an aspect of their creative dream first.

The reason your dreams are most times weirdly creative is your usual conscience rationalisation of ideas is unbounded. Your brain tries to fit incongruous ideas together with realistic ideas to see what fits best. Thus by blending these two disparities creatively, you end up with a major creative breakthrough.

dali-dram-sequenceLet’s flip the coin. Insomnia. It has inspired the great works of Leonardo da Vinci, Marcel Proust and Coldplay.  Science is still in two minds as to the effect insomnia or sleep deprivation has on creativity but that hasn’t stopped some ingenious creatives harnessing their imagination by inventing sleeping methods. Salvador Dali would sit in his favourite chair and hold a metal spoon in his hand and when he’d nod off, the spoon would clank onto the floor and wake him up. This delirious state in between drifting off to sleep and waking is believed to trigger hallucinations. It is called hynogogia.

Tiredness can bring about that eureka moment. Let me explain – when you are awake, limitless distractions proliferate, however, when you are tired your distraction filters fade away and you’re left in a less focused cognitive state which leads to reflecting on other unrelated information. This additional information floating through your thoughts can ultimately merge and provide an ‘aha’ moment.

What about daydreaming?

Daydreaming is not dreaming. It is the unfocused mind wandering and this can happen at any time. Creativity is spurred on by daydreaming, nevertheless, not all scientists agree because not all daydreams are created equal.

vEslAtpKBmOoHahXvXc6_1082116262Instead, it is ‘dedicated daydreaming’ that yields creative ideas by purposely letting the mind wander after having paid attention to a specific problem first. Einstein said, “Creativity is the residue of time wasted.”

Creative ideas are achieved through all of these methods. We’ve seen through history the results, so next time you have a creative block or want to aim that little bit higher for creative inspiration take a nap, go for a walk and daydream or stay up late. One of these options is bound to work best for you.


Melissa Coleman View All →

I’ve always been passionate about storytelling and impressed by the influence it has on people and the decisions they make in life. I love engaging with the projects I work on, diving headfirst into the research, investigation, and production of stories and articles I feel are worth writing about.

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