Sometimes I can’t wait to go to bed just so I can dream.
My dreams have always been vivid: full colour, surround sound, tactile, smell-o-vision, IMAX-quality 3D. I’m a fly on the wall watching a movie or I am one of the characters.
It’s awesome. It’s also an escape. I’m never disabled with arthritis in my dreams. I can run, jump, kneel, ride a bike, and do all the active things I did before my mobility deteriorated.
Obviously I don’t dream like this every night, or if I do, I can’t remember it. But often, when I wake up from these experiences my heart will be racing or I’ll be flooded with adrenaline. I’ve even woken up crying before… and other things I won’t mention.
I’ve taken part in battles, climbed mountains, soared through the night sky, been betrayed by allies, and surprised by enemies. I’ve invented strange devices, travelled through time, killed people, fallen in love, and had my heart broken.
My dreams are often the inspiration for short stories, and I try to cultivate the perfect dreaming environment to aid my creativity.
This is my recipe for creative dreaming.
- Go to bed at a reasonable hour, don’t wait until you are nodding off on the settee at midnight.
- Make sure you’ve gone to the loo.
- When in bed, make sure you are comfortable – you could sleep naked so you’re not constricted by anything.
- Make sure you are at a comfortable temperature.
- Have your pillows in a good position to support your head and neck.
- Do not read or mess with your phone.
- If you smoke tobacco, don’t have a last cig ‘just’ before you go to bed, it’ll raise your blood pressure and heart rate. Give your body 30-45 mins to recover from the nicotine hit.
- Keep distractions to a minimum, like pets, TV/radio, road noise, snoring partners etc. Personally I struggle with the pet issue – my cats like to use me as a cushion. For noises I can’t control, I sleep with ear plugs – they work a treat for background noise but I can still hear alarms.
- Make sure the lighting in the room is at a comfortable level for you. Personally, I like to sleep in a near pitch black room, so I have blackout curtains and turn everything off, even the little light on my phone telling me it’s charged can annoy me.
- When you first close your eyes, do deep breathing exercises and consciously relax each of your muscle groups starting from the head and working your way down. If you need help with this, there are many guided meditation tracks for sleep on YouTube. Find one with the least annoying voiceover and play it softly – I can’t stand the breathy ones or if you can hear saliva noises. Make sure you’ve turned off the autoplay function otherwise the next vid might scare the cr*p out of you just as you are drifting off. Trust me on this, lol.
- Look through what you see behind your closed eyes. You might see swirling colours or flashes of light, or odd shapes/faces coming out of the darkness towards you. Fall into it.
- You could even set an intention for your dreams. I’ve tried this many times and it does sometimes work. I repeat a short phrase summing up what I would like to dream while I’m doing the deep breathing and relaxing exercises; I usually choose something to do with a scene or an idea from my WIP.
This won’t guarantee you’ll have brilliant dreams, but in my experience it helps my brain get in the right state for dreaming.
Then the only thing you have to do is remember it for long enough after you wake up to make a record. Dictate into your phone either voice or voice to text, or keep a notebook by your bed. Do it – even if you wake up at 3am. I find the longer I stick at writing down my dreams, the more I tend to remember.
How about you guys? Do you have a special technique for helping you dream? Do you use your dreams for creative writing? Let us know in the comments.
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Sleeping tiger image CCO from pixabay.com.