Did you know that dreams are your most powerful muse? They can inspire works of poetry, art, music, science, innovation – whatever form your creativity takes. Even better, you can “program” your dreams to offer inspiration for a project you’re working on (more on that later).
Cauldron of imagination
Dreams spring from your unconscious, or even from your superconscious, which is connected to the higher powers that be. These deep wells of creativity are more accessible to you when you’re asleep. Novelist Stephanie Meyer said that the idea for her book Twilight came from a dream about a vampire in love with a mortal girl. The Twilight series – four books and counting – has sold 40 million copies thus far, was translated into three dozen languages and adapted into a film, with a sequel in the works – not bad for a dreamed-up story!
Actually, the world of literature is filled with dream-inspired works. British poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) perceived his evocative poem “Kubla Kahn” in a dream – in its totality. The stanzas, along with the extraordinary imaginary, were firmly in his head when he awakened. Imagine his frustration when he was interrupted in the midst of writing it down and only got a portion of the poem recorded before the dream slipped away. Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) attributed much of his writings to the tireless little “Brownies” that conjured up stories in his dreams. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is his best known dream-inspired tale. He had been pondering on the subject of man’s dual nature when he dreamt of a scene, split in two, in which Hyde was being chased for a crime. He took the powder and transformed in the presence of his pursuers. The rest is literary history.
Of savages and solutions
But creative dreaming isn’t confined to poets and novelists. Inventors can also find their muse in dreams. Inventor Elias Howe was trying to solve the quandary of how to create a needle that would catch the bobbin thread in the sewing machine he was attempting to build. Nothing worked. Frustrated, he went to bed with the problem on his mind, and dreamt of being captured by savages who threatened to kill him if he didn’t come up with the answer to his dilemma. Howe noticed in the dream that their spears had holes in the tip, the perfect representation of a needle.
A Deal with the Devil
Dreams have also inspired great works of music. One of the most compelling examples is the dream of Italian composer and violinist Giuseppe Tartini (1692-1770). In The World of Dreams by Havelock Ellis, Tartini said that when he was 21, he dreamt he had sold his soul to the Devil. He handed his fiddle to the Devil, who preceded to “play with consummate skill a sonata of such exquisite beauty as surpassed the boldest flights of my imagination.” Tartini awoke and seized his violin and tried to recreate the piece. The result was the violin sonata “Trillo del Diavolo,” or “The Devil’s Trill.” He described it as “the best I ever wrote, but how far below the one I had heard in my dream!”
Conjuring your muse
So how do you evoke your own dream muse? Following these steps will help you program a dream that inspires your creativity.
1. Focus. Most important, the more immersed you are in your creative project (or quandary), through gathering information, discussions, lectures, direct observation, etc., the better your chances are of having an inspirational dream. Have your question or issue planted firmly in your mind just before you go to sleep. Intense focus will trigger a stream of information from your unconscious. This may come in the form of a scene that inspires your creativity, a profound feeling that awakens your muse, or the solving of a problem that has you stumped.
2. Intent. Think of a simple statement about what you want to dream about. Your statement might be something like, “Show me the characters for my novel” (or scene for a painting, or music for my class, or the best way to use my talent for analysis). Whatever you come up with, keep it simple. Write down your statement and repeat is several times before going to sleep.
3. Record. Remember to have a pad and pen beside your bed so you can record your dreams. You must write them down as soon as you awaken, even if it’s just a fragment or feeling from the dream. It’s amazing how dreams can shatter into a million pieces as soon as you get out of bed, and piecing them back together again is a nearly impossibly task.
If at first you don’t succeed, keep trying. Your muse is just around the corner in your dreams, waiting to inspire you!
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