How to Dream Your Way to Creative Success
In the previous lesson, we looked at how others can inspire you, but you can also inspire yourself. In this lesson, we’ll look at how you can use your sleeping hours to employ your creativity.
Robert Louis Stevenson, Mary Shelley, and Stephen King are just a few of the authors who based works of fiction on their dreams. It works for us less stellar writers too: I had a dream that I used almost literally as the first scene of a screenplay that was eventually made into a movie.
The inspirational power of dreams isn’t limited to fiction. A study conducted at Harvard Medical School reveals that people who dreamed about a particular task performed it better than those who didn’t.
How to Set the Stage for Your Dreams
Of course, there’s no way to guarantee you’ll dream about something specific, but you can increase the likelihood that you will.
First, decide what you’d like to dream about and what you’d like to learn from the dream. For instance, maybe you’d like a dream to give you ideas for how to get people to spread the word about your creative projects and products or how to get students more excited about a course you’re teaching.
After that, spend the last five to ten minutes before you go to sleep thinking about the challenge in an optimistic way. Assume there’s a good solution that may be revealed to you in a dream.
Also, consider that your recollection of your dreams vanishes almost instantly if you don’t make a point of recording it immediately. So, have a notepad handy or record a description on your phone or a digital recorder. Even if all you can remember is one detail, go ahead and preserve it. This is a process that improves with practice.
Over time, you’ll find yourself able to remember your dreams in detail. Pay particular attention to the ones that have a strong emotion associated with them.
How to Interpret Your Dreams
Don’t expect the dream to give you a literal answer to your challenge, because dreams communicate in images and metaphors. Think about what happened in your dream. Where were you? Who else was there? What happened? How did you feel? Then consider what this dream could be trying to tell you about the challenge.
For instance, let’s say you want people to spread the word about your podcast, and you dream about handing out presents at Christmas. From this, you might get the idea of printing your podcast’s name on something you give people: pens, tiny bars of chocolate, etc. Or, it might remind you to get business cards that you can give out with your podcast’s name and URL on them.
Sometimes a dream may alert you to a problem that you weren’t aware of. A personal example: When I dream that my contact lenses are too big to fit into my eyes, that’s usually a signal that there’s something in my life I need to look at more closely. But don’t rely on dream dictionaries, because the same image in the dreams of two people will probably have a different meaning for each of them.
The Power of Lucid Dreams
Some people are able to become aware that they are dreaming and direct the action of their dreams without waking up. In her book, The Committee of Sleep, psychologist Deirdre Barrett says some artists are able to use this practice to get inspiration for their work. If you’d like to find out more about lucid dreaming and how to master it, another good book to consult is Exploring the World of Lucid Dreams by one of the foremost lucid dreaming researchers, Dr. Stephen LaBarge.
With practice, being open to the messages of your dreams can help you achieve your dream of creative success.
Although having a toolbox of creativity techniques increases your chance of success, trying new things always carries the risk of at least temporary failure. In the next lesson, you’ll discover how to cope with it and keep going.
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