The image of a dark shadow following me like Dementors was chasing Harry Potter is still live in my mind. It is a nightmare I started having when I was about 13 and it keeps repeating every now and then. I always manage to run away from that shadow, but it never stops following me. It is a recurrent dream that is chasing me for over 15 years now.
But how do these bad dreams influence creativity? Every human on Earth is having nightmares, but do they have a special effect on writers or on their creativity level? Do these nightmares have a hidden meaning?
Let’s find out more about nightmares and if they make writers more creative.
What Are Nightmares?
Nightmares are those bad dreams which make you wake up during the night. And while the sensation of fear has invalidated your body, you wake up all sweat and disturbed by what you just saw in your dreams.
We experience more nightmares when we are children. Researchers from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine say that from 10 to 50 percent of children aged 5 to 12 years, experience disturbing nightmares that make them wake up their parents.
This means that the severity of their nightmares is high enough to disturb their parents.
As the time passes by, the frequency of the nightmares decreases. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine says that only two to eight percent of adults experience nightmares.
But, What Triggers Nightmares?
Scientists say that the nightmares experienced during adulthood have the same triggers as the ones from childhood. Such triggers could be:
- Listening to scary stories
- The death of a beloved one
- Watching tv shows or horror movies
- Having a stressful day at school or work
Whether these triggers are common for childhood and adulthood, there are also some that are specific to adulthood.
As we grow up, we gain more and more control over our behavior and cognitive functions. We have the power to control and keep them under control.
But when something bad happens, our ability to manage our behavior and thinking weakens.
- Bad eating habits – like having a midnight snack
- Conflicts unresolved that we never stop thinking about
- Unknown allergies
can cause you to experience that night troubles.
What do we know about nightmares?
- We know that the nightmares are occurring in the REM sleep (rapid eye movement sleep). This phase is unique in our sleep and makes it easy for nightmares to appear because of its characteristics. Our muscles relax, and our eyes move faster, creating the conditions to dream vividly.
- Although every one of us has his own opinions, issues and perspective, some themes are common to most adults. Running from someone who is chasing you and not having the power to escape or falling from a very high building are common themes among adults.
- If you are on medication, you may experience nightmares, depending on the drugs you are taking.
But, how can a writer be inspired by his or her nightmares?
We all know that inspiration does not come if you clap your hands. There are a lot of exercises to boost your creativity. Some of them may work, some not. I tried some and all I can say is that they are helpful.
A lot of writers ask for advice on how to boost their creativity, and all I can say is to dive deeper into your dreams.
I tried to remember all the details of my dreams, some of them being full of feelings and sensations that would make a great story.
My solution to the problem of keeping track of one’s dreams was to write them down on a dream journal. I noticed that after I wake up, I clearly see all the dream details.
And this is the best moment to write down what you have just dreamed.
As the time passes by, more and more details will get lost.
You will boost your creativity and you will have a great start for an awesome story. Your brain is working also during the night, so nightmares are one of the things that he is part of. And why not use your brain at its fullest?
Wait, is this possible? Do I really become more creative?
The answer is, yes. Have you ever wondered where the Frankenstein story came from? Or how was Edgar Allan Poe so inspired to write such horrific, yet awesome stories?
You might think that as a writer you barely have time to sleep because you often enter a writing frenzy state. Stephen King got the idea for his famous masterpiece Misery while flying to London and experiencing a nightmare.
You can also draw what you have just dreamed and get inspired like Robert L. Stevenson did for his The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde novel.
There are so many writers who leveled up their creativity just by paying enough attention to what they experienced during the night. So yes, it is possible to become more creative if you listen to your brain during the night.
In fact, there are lots of studies which investigated the relationship between nightmares and creativity. One study conducted by Michelle Carr proved that during a word-association task, those who experienced nightmares scored significantly better than those who do not.
This means that it is a positive relationship between nightmares and creativity.
You might find yourself too troubled to form sentences and all you can do is to write down some ideas and memories. As a writer, you can always use the help of some nerdy writers or you can hire a writer online who can proofread your drafts.
As a writer, you can get lost through ideas. It is always helpful when a fresh and new perspective is used to improve your drafts. This is the moment when you can ask for help from a professional.
How Useful Are Nightmares to Writers?
After I over analyzed all the studies about nightmares and creativity, an idea popped up. How useful are nightmares for writers, actually? How can I, as a writer, maximize the potential my nightmares have?
Well, these are some tricky questions. But studies helped me clarify some aspects.
Empathy – a study from 2013 showed that people who experience nightmares frequently, also display mirror behaviors. They tend to be more aware of the people and surroundings.
And it is well-known that there is a positive relationship between empathy and creativity, although we do not know the exact relationship. Nightmares might determine you to write more vivid, fuller of life stories.
The recall rate is high – this might be due to the characteristics of nightmares. It is hardwired in our brain to remember more bad things than good things.
This is especially visible when taking into consideration nightmares. They can be a great source of inspiration for your next horror or thriller story.
I talked a lot about nightmares. What are they, what triggers do they have or how are nightmares and creativity linked.
But, how can you take advantage of nightmares, as a writer?
Oh well, nightmares inspire you. They make you more creative in ways you wouldn’t have known were possible. The truth is, our brain is working all the time. And just a few of the things it is noticing reach the consciousness level. You must take advantage of them.
Write down as many details you remember. Or, if you have some hidden talents, you can draw or paint. The thing is, while you will be working on remembering as many details as possible, your creativity level will increase.
Your brain will be exercising, and your imagination will be unleashed. So, what are you waiting for? Start that dream journal and begin creating the most vivid and gripping stories you have ever written.
About the Author
Tiffany Harper is an experienced writer from New York (USA) and an extremely active woman. She began her career as a journalist, now she works as a subject matter expert with university assignment help, best essay writing , custom research paper, makes researches for domywriting reviews, Paper Writing Pro Service, and My-Assignment.Help. Also, Tiffany works as a special mentor with master thesis writing service, best paper writing services, expert writers, Pro Papers review, mostly in wellness and healthy lifestyle area. She gets inspiration for writing from travels and meeting new people, feel free to contact her on Twitter.