Programming Your Dreams for Creativity

This was originally published as a guest blog post on  3/25/11 on

“Having problems getting ideas? Written yourself into a corner? Writer’s block? Need insight into a character, plot twist, or where your story is going next? These are all challenges that dream programming can help you with.

How can dreams help us to better access our creativity? The unconscious holds a lot of the power of the brain, including a lot of the more instinctive or intuitive types of creativity. It’s all in there.

Many of the blocks we have in writing are caused by judgment (found primarily in the conscious part of the brain). If we bypass the conscious mind and go straight to the unconscious, we can avoid these blocks and tap more directly into our creativity.

One of the easiest ways to do this is through dreams.

What are the steps to dream programming?

First, know what you want.

  • Do you have a specific topic or question? Be clear on what you’re looking for.
  • Are you just “stuck”? Intend to dream the information you need to move forwards in your writing.

Make your objective or intention for your dream as specific as you need, and no more. If what you want is how to get out of the corner you’ve written yourself into, ask for that, and not how your hero tricks the villain. Sometimes your creativity will come up with something unexpected. Leave it some wiggle room to receive that surprise answer, rather than block it by too narrow parameters.

Once your intention is clear, and you’re drifting off to sleep in bed, simply tell yourself repeatedly:

  • “Tonight, I will dream a dream that will help me to (insert intention here).”
  • “When I wake, I will remember my dreams.”
  •  “I will dream in symbols that I easily and clearly understand….”

If you sleep alone, you can do this out loud. If you share sleeping quarters, do this in your head. (It’ll work just as well.) The silent method is so you don’t weird out your sleep buddy, plus it’s far harder to dream if said buddy keeps thumping you with a pillow and saying Will you please hush up?!

 You don’t need to use these exact words. You can change them if you want to. The important part is to hit the key points in your intentions. The first suggestion programs you to dream with purpose. The second one to remember your dreams. The third suggestion sets an intention that you clearly understand the information that your dreams bring you.

How does dream programming work?

As you go to sleep, you pass from full alertness (Beta brain waves) down through Alpha, Theta and Delta. While doing this, your mind becomes more receptive to suggestions that you give yourself. With suggestions, you teach your body to intentionally dream, and remember the information you get from your unconscious mind while dreaming. This is a simple form of self-hypnosis.

When you wake, sometimes you may instantly know what your dream means. At other times, you may need to think on it a bit, so be sure to have the materials ready to write things down.

Before discovering this technique, I was a rather left-brained writer; I liked outlines and plotting my story out before I began writing. Once I started dream programming, I found characters, plot twists and entire story lines popping up spontaneously out of the never-never as I needed them. And it can work this way for you, too.

Some people find that dream programming works almost immediately for them. Others find that it takes longer (depending on things such as how deeply you sleep, how receptive you are to your own suggestions, how much your sleep buddy hits you with that pillow, etc.). In the end, though, if you keep doing it, you’ll find that your dreams give you better access to your creative side,

So, happy writing; and may all of your dreams come true…..”

Catherine Kane         

Catherine Kane Writes


This entry was posted in My Writing, and What's Up With That, The Process of Writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Programming Your Dreams for Creativity

  1. Pingback: Nine Things You Can Do To Keep Writing When You’re Too Sick Or Tired To Write | catherinekanewrites

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