Most creative writers are able to draw a lot of inspiration from the many strange dreams that come to us as we sleep. If we are smart, we write them down. If we are lucky, some of them can actually be made into unusual and compelling stories. Our dreams are where our subconscious can play free and throw around whatever strikes its fancy.
Because of this, inspiring and creative dreams are a huge resource for the fiction author. It stands to reason, you’d want to find ways to feed the wellspring from which they come. I don’t have any scientific article I can point to that can back this up. All evidence I have is anecdotal. Still, it has held true over the course of my life. You are free to take this advice or ignore it as you see fit.
Two big factors in my dreams seem to be exercise and experience. The link between exercise and mental performance has been well documented, so I won’t dwell on that. Instead, let’s focus on experience. Think about some of the all time greatest authors. The best works seemed to be heavily inspired by the events of their lives. Those who time and again offer us compelling stories and unique worlds are also the ones who were very active in life.
They sought new experiences, did new things, learned new skills. They went out and created all sorts of new memories. The link seems logical. Every face from your dreams is a face you saw somewhere in the waking world. One of the most common theories about dreams are that they are how our minds interpret the activity of sorting memories. What we have done is directly linked to what we dream.
I can attest to this effect. When I was traveling northward, each day in a new place and every moment a new sight, I was filled with creativity. My dreams were complex and my creative muse seemed like she had decided to stop gently prodding me and was instead carrying me forward on her shoulders. I created an entire world and complex setting as easily as I might have jotted down names of friends.
I can follow the ebbs and flows of my creativity and they match the depth of my dreams. When I am experiencing new things, my creativity rises and the dreams I have are much more interesting and varied. I don’t get many repeating dreams when life is throwing new things my way. When I start to fall into a familiar rut however, that changes. I start to have pattern dreams.
Pattern dreams is a term I use to describe a recurring dream that doesn’t seem particularly tied to anything. It is just some dream that plays out roughly the same way as it has before, with only minor changes. As best as I can surmise, I learned nothing my brain feels needs to be remembered from that day and so it is just sorting out a few odds and ends. Minor changes are all I get to the pattern.
This isn’t rock solid. Sometimes I have amazingly interesting dreams no matter how mind-numbing a rut has become. Sometimes I don’t remember my dreams at all despite new experiences and improved creativity. Still, I suspect that your dream notebook will fill up far faster and with far more interesting ideas if you make a point of experiencing new things more often. Vacation in new places, take a path you’ve never walked down before, chat with someone you’ve never met before. Learn, grow and improve.
I think if you can do that, you’ll quickly find that your dreams are much improved. For those whose dreams are already interesting regularly, who knows how much more vivid and unique those nightly experiences will become. Food for thought at least. I hope this helps a few of you out there.