There’s something mysterious and magical about dreams. In the dreamworld, anything is possible. Our deepest desires and greatest fears come to life. Whether they haunt or beguile, our dreams represent the far reaches of our imaginations.
Journals can have similar qualities of mystery and intrigue. If your journal is full of freewrites, doodles, cryptic notes, and random ideas, then it might read like a road map through your imagination, or it may feel like a crash course through your subconscious.
Journaling is an excellent tool for dream exploration, and dreams are a spectacular source of inspiration for writing.
You can tap into your daydreams or your sleeping dreams as a way to inform and inspire your journal writing:
- Record your dreams so you can better understand them.
- Capture the images in your dreams and turn them into poems and song lyrics.
- Transform monsters from your nightmares into creepy villains for your short stories or novels.
- Incorporate your dreams into your memoirs and personal essays.
- Use your dreams to guide your free-writing sessions.
Dreams have been a subject of great interest in the fields of neurology, psychology, and spirituality, to name a few. Yet we still know relatively little about the nature of dreams. Where do they come from? What do they mean? In one dream, you’re working out problems from your subconscious, and in the next, you’re a character from your favorite TV show. The white rabbit in your dream symbolizes a call to adventure, but the white rabbit in your best friend’s dream represents fertility.
According to Wikipedia:
Dreams are a succession of images, sounds or emotions that pass through the mind during sleep. The content and purpose of dreams are not fully understood, though they have been a topic of speculation and interest throughout recorded history. The scientific study of dreams is known as oneirology.
Like I said, we know relatively little about dreams. But that doesn’t mean we can’t put them to good use. Throughout history, dreams have often acted as catalysts for artists, writers, musicians, and inventors. Here are a few famous literary works that were affected or derived from authors’ dreams (aff links):
- Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
- Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
- Stephen King’s Misery
Keeping a Dream Journal
Keep your journal by your bed and jot down your dreams as soon as you wake, before you even get out of bed (otherwise you risk losing or forgetting the dream). It only takes a few minutes.
Dreams are tricky; sometimes they hang around for days, lingering in your mind, but other times, they can’t run away fast enough. Outsmart your dreams by writing them down immediately. Work fast, jotting down a few words and images to keep the dream fresh.
You can create a special journal just for your dreams, or you can stash them in any other journal you’re already keeping. You can even find special journals that are designed for capturing dreams, and some of them will look lovely on your bedside table.
Do you have trouble remembering your dreams? You can train yourself to retain them better. As you fall asleep, repeat a mantra that directs your mind to dream and remember your dreams. For example: “I will dream tonight, and I will remember my dreams when I wake.” This is proven to work, and you can find plenty of resources packed with techniques for better dream recall. It might take a while, but it can be done.
Let’s dive right in to what Wikipedia has to say about daydreams:
While daydreaming has long been derided as a lazy, non-productive pastime, it is now commonly acknowledged that daydreaming can be constructive in some contexts. There are numerous examples of people in creative or artistic careers, such as composers, novelists and filmmakers, developing new ideas through daydreaming.
The imagination is a bizarre and wondrous thing. Humans have the capacity to conjure up incredible things, but contrary to popular opinion, using one’s imagination requires time and energy. It might look like you’re sitting around doing a whole lot of nothing. But who knows? You could be plotting the next Pulitzer Prize winning novel.
In some ways, daydreams are a better source of inspiration for journal writing than nighttime dreams. Since you’re awake, you can take breaks from your daydreams to jot down notes. You’re also more likely to retain a daydream because you’re awake for it.
Harvest Your Dream Journal for Writing Inspiration
Dreams are borne of human consciousness and imagination, which provide an endless stream of writing ideas and inspiration. Your dream journal can function as a repository for all of these visions, and you can peruse your dream journal as an incredible idea warehouse at any time for any type of writing project.
Want more tips on journaling? Check out
A Guide to Journaling for Writers
Do you ever write down your dreams? Have you ever kept a dream journal? Has a dream (daydream or night-dream) ever provided inspiration for your writing? Is journal writing a habit for you? How often do you write in your journal, and how do you use it with your other writing projects?