Journal Prompts for Dreamers

journal prompts

Dreamy journal prompts.

Where do dreams come from? Many philosophers, psychiatrists, and other experts, as well as everyday people, have made conjectures about the sources of our night visions. But they are still a mystery.

Some dreams are obvious, of course. We’ve all experienced dreams that are clearly relevant to what’s going on in our lives or dreams that are some reflection of the past. Some people claim they’ve dreamed events before they actually happened–precognitive dreams that allow a dreamer to peer into the future.

Some of us remember every single dream we have. A few of us may even take time to jot down our dreams in a dream journal. Others cannot remember any of their dreams and will even claim they simply don’t have dreams at all. There are those whose dreams are so vivid that they are induced into sleepwalking, and there are those whose dreams carry the essences of their greatest fears–nightmares.

Some dreamers are so attuned to their dreams that they can actually control a dream while they are having it (this is called lucid dreaming). They decide to fly in a dream, and they are off, soaring through the dream-sky.


Dreaming for Inspiration

Dreams may unlock mysteries, answer questions, or give us new insights. They inform artists’ work, help scientists solve complex problems, and they give writers plenty of fodder for fiction and poetry.

In fact, many famous works of art and inventions were inspired by dreams. In an article titled “Dream Art,” Wikipedia provides a list of artists and works that came directly from dreams. Some of the most notable artists, writers, musicians, and filmmakers who have captured dream material to produce great works of art include William Blake, Salvador Dali, Clive Barker, Mary Shelley, Robert Louis Stevenson, Stephen King, Carlos Castaneda, David Lynch, Rush, Paul McCartney, and Roger Waters, to name a few.

Dreams can even provide the answers to complex technical or scientific problems. Sewing machine inventor Elias Howe was having trouble figuring out how the needle on his machine would work, until one night he had a dream in which he was imprisoned by a group of natives, who were dancing around him and holding spears that had holes near their tips. This image finally gave Howe the idea he needed to make his invention work–a needle with a hole at the tip, which was designed much like those natives’ spears.

Journal Prompts and Dreams

If you’ve ever kept a dream journal, then you have some experience with exploring your dreams during waking hours. When you keep a dream journal, you learn to pay more attention to your dreams, and you start remembering your dreams better and in greater detail. Dream journals are ideal for generating raw creative material.

Today’s journal prompts aren’t based around a dream journal, and they don’t ask you to keep one, although doing so is definitely recommended. If you do happen to keep a dream journal, then you’ll have an advantage here, because these journal prompts do require that you remember a dream or two. Yet the main goal with these journal prompts is to add another tool to your writer’s toolbox, to leverage a little bit more of your imagination by paying attention to the messages, images, and signals that your subconscious is sending you when you’re sound asleep.

To complete these journal prompts, you do need to be a dreamer. If you don’t make a habit out of remembering your dreams, or if you rarely remember them, then you might try keeping a dream journal for about a week. As you fall asleep, remind yourself that in the morning your first task will be to write down your dreams. Promote dreaming and remembering dreams by using affirmations such as “I will dream.” Then give these journal prompts a try.

Journal Prompts

  1. Write down a full account of a dream you’ve had recently. Try to include as many details as possible.
  2. Think back over some of the dreams you’ve had and try to identify recurring themes. Perhaps you’re often being chased in dreams (or doing the chasing), maybe a lot of your dreams are set in nature or feature animals.
  3. Identify the people, creatures, and animals in your dreams by describing them. Could they become characters in your next short story?
  4. Do you ever notice minute details in your dreams? Elias Howe noticed that in his dream, the natives’ spears had holes in them. Try to pinpoint seemingly minor details that appear in your dreams and write descriptions of them.
  5. Do your dreams ever stick with you throughout the day? Are images from your dreams haunting you as you go about your business? Why do you suppose this happens with some dreams but not others? What are the images that linger?
  6. Have you ever felt like a dream was trying to tell you something or send you an important message? What was the dream and what message did you come away with?
  7. If you could construct a full, vivid dream, which you will have tonight and remember in full tomorrow, what would happen in the dream? Who would be there? Where would it take place?

Interesting Facts About Dreams

  • The scientific study of dreams is known as oneirology.
  • Abraham Lincoln dreamed of his assassination.
  • At one time, some experts believed that dreams only happened in black and white. Most people actually dream in color.

Sources:

If you use any of these journal prompts, feel free to post your entries or excerpts in the comments. Now, let’s talk about dreaming and how we can use dreams to inspire our writing!

Creative Writing Prompts

About Melissa Donovan
Melissa Donovan is a website designer and copywriter. She writes fiction and poetry and is the founder and editor of Writing Forward, a blog packed with creative writing tips and ideas.

Comments

18 Responses to “Journal Prompts for Dreamers”

  1. Very cool! That would be very cool to have prescriptive guidance on how to dream. It’d be even cooler to have prescriptive guidance on how to make your dreams come true ;)

    • There are a lot of books on dreaming, and how to control your dreams while you’re having them (lucid dreaming). I’m pretty sure there are also lots of books about making your dreams come true ;)

  2. Michele says:

    This is fascinating, Melissa! I had forgotten that tidbit about Abe Lincoln!

    And I love these prompts. :-)

    I’m a pretty vivid dreamer–sometimes it feels like I didn’t even sleep! LOL

    *smiles*
    Michele

    • It’s funny. Sometimes, for weeks, I remember all my dreams in detail. Then, weeks (or even months) will go by, and it seems like I haven’t been dreaming at all. Dreams are fascinating, and that’s why they’re great for writing inspiration.

  3. Trisha says:

    Journaling my dreams has been on my list for quite a while – you’ve given me a jumpstart and the inspiration to get going! Thanks for sharing!

    • I have kept a dream journal off and on throughout the years. I find that the more you try to remember your dreams so you can write them down, the more you actually can remember. Like anything, practice makes perfect.

  4. Dreams are so fascinating. I often find I work out things that are troubling me via dreams, and that the solutions stay with me when I wake up. Sometimes, the dreams are relevant to something I’m writing — or, last week, to something I’m not writing, but perhaps should write.

    I find I get nightmares right before a major life transition –even if I don’t know consciously it’s coming.

    • Dreams are pretty bizarre. Sometimes they’re so soothing, other times so troubling. Keeping a dream journal has helped me better understand my dreams, and sometimes things show up in my dreams that make it to my writing, and I find that happens mostly when I’m writing them down.

  5. AravisGirl says:

    my sister writes from her dreams. I am “inspired” by dreams sometimes, but my final idea is almost never anything what my dream was like.

    P.S. I have a theory about dreams: There’s the “Dream Universe” and our Universe. If the Dream Universe was 2.0 and we were 1.0, when we go to sleep and dream, we’re somewhere between those realities, i.e. Level 1.6

    • There has been much written about dreams existing on another plane, and that in some dreams we actually travel to a different dimension. I don’t know if that’s true but the idea definitely intrigues me!

  6. Melissa, thanks for stopping by to comment on my blog. I make my living writing, so of course I check the legitimacy of every anthology to which I even consider a submission. This is a perfectly legitimate anthology from a perfect legitimate publisher; but something felt off as far as being the right fit for me; I’m glad i went with my gut — it was a huge burden lifted from me.

  7. J.D. Meier says:

    Good stuff.

    Maybe I should wait for my G or at least PG rated dreams.

    I always enjoy your prompts.

    J.D. Meiers last blog post..Worst Things First

  8. Kelvin Kao says:

    I’ve had many amusing dreams. The most amusing usually takes place in the Chin (Qin) Dynasty of China. The dynasty ended in 1911, and I always thought they are goofy looking, because this is a period of transition where you can see people wearing traditional clothes, but using some relatively modern gadgets (such as eye glasses). Of course, in my dreams it’s taken up a notch. I would see horses and carriages pulling into a parking lot, turn into a space, and just stand there until the drives come back. There are also valet guys standing in front of an inn to park these horses and carriages for patrons. And then they also have problems parallel parking these things. These are the kind of dreams that I wake up laughing from because they just look so ridiculous to me. Juxtaposition of the modern and ancient is a common theme for my amusing dreams.

    And then there’s the one that I have many times of missing a big final exam. I would just be wondering around the campus and then when I look up at the clock, I think, “Hey, isn’t there a test going on? Hm, I am missing it.” Maybe that should be making me nervous, but I really don’t feel any of that. It’s like, meh, I don’t really care.

    Kelvin Kaos last blog post..New Sewing Machine!

    • Wow, you have historical dreams? That’s wild. I don’t think I’ve experienced that before, but it would be very cool, albeit bizarre. I think I used to dream about tests and due dates when I was in school and I’ve definitely had jobs that leaked into my dreams (not fun to work all day then sleep and dream about work too – it’s like it never ends). Sounds to me like you take your schooling very seriously, and that’s not so bad.

  9. Martin - Writing Prompts says:

    What a great way to ride on the magical worlds you find in your dreams. It’s neat to take the concept of the dreams further and reflect upon how they change you during your daily going ons. Adds another layer to the dreams.

    Martin – Writing Promptss last blog post..Stories Centered Around An Object

    • I just found out about yet another author whose work derived from a dream she had: Stephanie Meyer, author of the Twilight series. The key, of course, is listening to your dreams, writing them down, and letting the story unfold. And it definitely adds another layer to your dreams.