Did you know that we spend around two hours dreaming every night?
That’s two hours of pure creative and imaginative energy just waiting to be tapped into. Sure, we don’t always remember most of those dreams, but writing can help us harness the creative power of the ones we do remember.
Everyone from psychologists to mathematicians believes that dreams play a pivotal role in our lives. Dream journaling can help us tap into our creativity and maybe even offer insights into who we are as people.
Here is all you need to know about dream journaling, plus 31 prompts to help you start writing and stick with it.
What Is a Dream Journal?
There are two definitions for a dream journal:
- A space to write about and analyze the dreams you have at night.
- A space to write about your hopes and dreams (goals) for the future.
We’ll focus on the first definition in this article. Dream journals are like reflective diaries. They help you process some of the dreams or nightmares that you have while sleeping.
Sometimes they can help you create new artistic work as a short story or painting. Other times you’ll discover something about yourself that can help you grow or let go.
Why Write a Dream Journal?
Dream journals help you access your unconscious creativity. You also get the chance to tap into the part of yourself we can’t always see when we’re awake. Here are the reasons to keep a dream journal:
- You can improve your memory and start remembering more dreams.
- While dreaming, your thoughts are uninhabited, so it’s like free creativity.
- It can significantly improve your writing skills because you have to weave the snippets of dream memories into a cohesive story. That takes skill.
- Your dreams can pull you out of writer’s block.
- It can sometimes help you build control over your lucid dreams.
If you’re still unconvinced, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was inspired by a nightmare she had. Yesterday? Yes, the famous song from The Beatles came to Paul McCartney in a dream.
Your dreams have the potential to unlock the creativity you didn’t know was there.
How to Start a Dream Journal
The best way to start a dream journal is to set an intention, then just pick up the pen and write. Sounds obvious, but the truth is, many of us talk ourselves out of writing. We say we’re not good enough or don’t have the time.
Pick up the pen and start from anywhere you feel comfortable. You can draw if that feels more comfortable to you. The point is to get going.
Once your journal is underway, try to include as much detail as you can remember. You’ll start to have clearer memories the more you write.
You can also start comparing your dreams to your day-to-day activities. Keeping track of events in your waking life can help you draw connections to images and symbols in your dreams.
How to Dream More
You can boost your chances of dreaming and remembering those dreams with these little tricks.
- Get enough sleep – Your body won’t enter REM sleep, the cycle where most dreaming occurs, if you don’t get enough sleep. Aim for seven to nine hours a night.
- Try sleeping for longer – You will increase the number of REM cycles you go through in a night by sleeping for longer periods.
- Talk yourself into dreamland – You can convince yourself to dream by telling yourself to do it right before bed. You can even try a meditation that will help you tap into your dream world.
- Boost melatonin – This is a hormone released by the pineal gland. It helps maintain your sleeping cycles. If you have too little, it can impact your sleep and stop you from dreaming.
- Don’t sleep the whole night through – Interrupting your sleep cycles can help you wake up during REM sleep, which can help you remember your dreams.
- Keep your journal close by – You might want to write down what you remember as you wake up, even if it’s in the middle of the night. Getting it down right away will help you draw inspiration when you start journaling later.
Remember to write every day and keep as much detail as possible. Keep track of any patterns or symbols to draw inspiration for further exploration.
Try to give each dream entry a title to encourage creativity.
31 Dream Journal Prompts to Keep You Journalling
Armed with these tips, it’s time to get journaling. Whether you write, draw, or record, writing your dreams down will help you tap into your creativity. It’s also a brilliant tool for self-exploration and development.
Here are 31 dream journal prompts to keep you journaling even when you have writer’s block.
- Have you ever kept a dream journal before? If yes, what was that experience like? If no, why not, and what made you want to start now?
- Write down your most recent dream you remember in as much detail as possible. Does it connect to any of your other dreams?
- Ask yourself, “What does dreaming mean to me?” Write the answer.
- Do you believe dreams are a premonition? The Ancient Egyptians used to believe dreams were messages sent from the gods. Write down why you do or don’t believe that. Why did they believe it?
- What was your best dream? Why? Write it down with as much detail as possible.
- Do some research on what dreaming is and write down what you learn. Understanding dreams a little more can help with memory.
- Create a short story or comic strip about the end of a dream you didn’t get to finish.
- Think of a recurring character or place in your dreams. Right about it in detail.
- Write a fun dialogue based on a dream you had.
- Identify recurring themes or motifs that you’ve had in your dreams.
- Try to identify one of the first dreams you remember having. Write it down in as much detail as possible.
- Write down the scariest dream you’ve ever had. Try to make it into a short horror story or create a drawing.
- Try to identify the emotions you felt during your most recent dream. Is it an emotion that comes up often?
- If you could live in any of the places you dreamt about, where would it be and why?
- Write down one of your recurring dreams. Try to include when you have this dream. You might discover what triggers it.
- If you want a challenge, try to draw an entire dream if you aren’t an artist, or write out an entire dream if you aren’t a writer.
- Write down a dream that spent the whole day with you because it was so intense.
- Compare dreams and dreams (goals). See where they overlap and how they are different.
- What changes would you make in your dreams?
- Write down one of the most realistic dreams you’ve ever had. You know, the one that made you sit up in bed and make sure it wasn’t real.
- What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you in your dreams? Explore it through images or words.
- Try stream-of-consciousness writing about a dream. Don’t stop yourself. Set a timer and try to write the entire time.
- Find a dream and then try to locate the most minute details. Like noticing that the dolphins in your dreams have tiny wings near their ears.
- What animals or creatures do you dream of most often? Describe them in detail.
- Write about a dream that felt like a premonition and then came true. Write about what came up for you after the event.
- Create a dream you would love to have – the ideal dream for you.
- Create a hypothesis about where dreams come from. Pretend you’re going to present your findings to a character that often appears in your dreams.
- Think of a particularly profound dream you had. Write about the way it correlates to events happening in your waking life.
- Write about any lucid dreams you’ve had. What did you do? How did it feel?
- Convert a boring dream into an exciting, nail-biting story.
- Create a poem out of one of your dreams.
Now that you have the prompts, it’s time to get dreaming. Remember to have fun and express yourself freely.
Your journal is a safe space to explore your creativity and mind. Use it to help you grow and create works of art.