During a class, a professor asked us, “what is creativity?” and “how do you harness it?” To give a little background on that, it was a class about teaching creative writing, so the topic was on how to get writing students actually writing. See, a lot of people tend to hit walls, often calling the experience “writer’s block.” Well, that’s not exactly what writer’s block is, but the issue still stands as a problem that writers often face.
Before moving on, let me clarify writer’s block. It’s not the inability to come up with a story or unable to start writing. Instead, writer’s block is usually hit at a point of extreme fatigue. I’m sure most writers have been there. I’ve been there. It can be after a long day of mental-taxing work. You return home, eager to hit that wordcount, but nothing comes out. Essentially, you’re tired. Another way to see this thing is writing all day, hitting—and this one depends on person to person—10 pages written or more. By then, you’d be exhausted. I know I’d be; and in consequence, no writing would get done.
That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m looking at this strange lack of ideas. That problem you get when you open a word file and stare at the blank page, but no ideas come out. You know you’ve got energy. Maybe you just woke up from a long nap, or maybe you just woke up from a long healthy good night’s sleep. Yet, you look at the page, and nothing comes out. I absolutely hate it when I get that feeling. There’s guilt involved, and maybe even frustration, both which make the whole experience worse. But, there’s a way out of it…
The day before yesterday I had one of the most insane dreams I’ve had in recent history. There was a wizard mob boss, weird wizard gangster bounty hunters, and coins that could resurrect the dead. It was freaking amazing. So much, in fact, that I wrote it down the moment I had a chance, and now it’s saved on my notebook. I might even turn it into a full fledged story!
I cannot stress enough how much dreams matter to me when it comes to writing. A few years ago, I had a dream about a science fiction novel called Jack Meredith. Before that, I had a dream about gods and the universe, which later turned into the world I use in my current NaNoWriMo novel, The Black Symphony. These two examples are just some of the many that would never exist were it not for how much attention I pay to dreams.
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard from other writers that they don’t dream or care about dreams, and I can only think of one thing: why would you do that to yourself? Conversely, I’ve heard stories about people attempting to harness the power of micro dreams (you know, those little ones that you get as you fall asleep and everything makes sense even though thoughts might be completely disconnected) in order to invent or come up with better ideas.
Yeah, I know this sounds like some New Age thing, trying to fix the lack of ideas through dreams. But, believe me, it works. I admit, maybe it’s because lucid dreams sounded appealing to me that I first started trying to use dreams in general. And, having them has proven to be fantastic anyway. I mean, fighting those wizards in my dreams was pretty damn cool, even if I knew I was dreaming. Still, I highlight how useful dreams are.
The unconscious mind is just too powerful to ignore. I think I mentioned it before in a different post; and if I haven’t, I should write a whole post about this. But, the unconscious mind can solve a lot of problems for people. That’s why after being stuck on some problem for a long time, a person will find a solution soon after taking a break and doing something else. The mind keeps juggling the problem, and it allows you to see it from a better angle when you go back to it.
That’s why I argue dreams need to be written down. If you don’t have a dream journal, get one. I recommend it. Maybe the contents will be incoherent at first, but even those crazy entries aren’t useless. They’re inspiration fodder. Eventually though, writing them down will allow for better memory upon waking from a dream, and that will lead to more rounded dreams.
Returning to the class I mentioned, and the question the teacher asked. Explaining the concept of creativity is extremely hard, but—for me—the answer lies in dreams. Creativity is the power to harness those dreams and put them on paper for other people to dream. Writers are businessmen, and their currency is dreams.