Where do ideas come from?

How many creative geniuses can we name who claim to have literally dreamt some of their best work?

Paul McCartney has famously been quoted as saying he woke up in the middle of the night and composed the hit song ‘Yesterday’ after being inspired by a dream. Other musicians, including Keith Richards from the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Sting and John Lennon offer similar stories of having creative ideas while they slept.

Salvador Dali, the surrealist artist suggested that the concept of his wonderful melting clocks paintings came from a dream and the poet, Edgar Allan Poe talked about using his nightmares as inspiration.

I remember when I once had flu, I was in a fog of headache, body aches and sore throat, floating in and out of sleep when I came up with an idea for a story, but it certainly could not compete with the masterpieces listed above. Developing and writing a good story is a tricky business. I’ve had many initial ideas, but there has to be something really special about it to keep going and develop it further.

Sometimes it works to sit quietly, to think up ideas for a section of plot, but often I come up with something better completely spontaneously when I’m doing something else. Inspiration can come from all around, from something simple like a chance conversation, or from travelling the globe and having completely new experiences. Sometimes I am deliberately looking for ideas and sometimes they just pop into my head, gate crashing other thoughts when I’m cleaning my teeth or making my lunch.

The unconscious brain is definitely a wonderful breeding ground for creative thoughts. It holds a lifetime of personal experiences, emotions and feelings which can be mixed together into something unique. That is the world of dreams.

As the famous Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist, Carl Gustav Jung said, ‘The dream is the small hidden door in the deepest and most intimate sanctum of the soul, which opens to that primeval cosmic night that was soul long before there was a conscious ego and will be soul far beyond what a conscious ego could ever reach.’

All this is very good news for someone like me who enjoys her sleep. The next time someone thinks me lazy for sleeping in too long, I will claim that I am in fact, working very hard indeed.

‘To sleep perchance to dream.’

Good night.




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