The role of lucid dreaming in the process of novel writing

Clare Johnson, 2004

Clare Johnson

I am a doctoral researcher with the University of Leeds, England, investigating the role of lucid dreaming in the process of novel writing. My research is rooted in practice as I am currently writing a novel which features lucid dreams, and I am exploring ways of drawing on lucid dreams for inspiration at each stage of the creative process. My research methodology includes a case study evaluation of professional writers, artists, musicians, and lucid dream researchers. Through these case studies, additional insights are acquired into the practical and theoretical possibilities of lucid dreaming as a creative tool across the arts.

In his 1908 paper, ‘Creative Writers and Day-dreaming,’ Freud compared the imaginative writer with the daydreamer. Both writers and artists slip into a vivid, guided daydream when they create a piece of work. This ‘creative trance’ represents a contrived balance between waking and dreaming consciousness. This state is similar to lucid dreaming, in which the dreamer wakes up inside the dream and can therefore guide and observe events. In both states, the unconscious is consciously accessed.

Lucid dreams have been known to eliminate creative blocks (Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming, LaBerge & Rheingold, 1990; The Committee of Sleep, Barrett, 2001) and sensory experience can be consciously extended in lucid dreams before being reproduced in a work of art or fiction. Similarly, lucid dreams can be used to advance a ‘stuck’ fictional plot, as the dreamer can actively create dialogues between fictional characters while lucid.

Questions which my research raises and considers are as follows:

  1. What is a ‘creative trance’ and how is it connected with lucid dreaming?
  2. Might the high level of perceptual realism in lucid dreams stimulate the imagination more than a state of daydream would?
  3. Could the practice of lucid dreaming bring writers and artists into closer contact with the imagery and archetypes prevalent in dreams?
  4. Could lucid dreams be useful in the elimination of creative blocks?
  5. What are the pitfalls of using lucid dreams to complement the creative process?
  6. What benefits could be had from writers entering into dialogue with their fictional characters during lucid dreams?
  7. Do lucid dreams cultivate spontaneity?
  8. Can lucid dreaming facilitate the creative flow of ideas in art and literature?

This study, while still in progress, provides evidence that lucid dreaming is a state predisposed to creativity and points to the conclusion that writers and artists stand to benefit from working with lucid dreams. I hope to present my work at the 2005 IASD Conference in California.

Currently I am looking specifically for lucid dreamers who have published novels or short stories. If you fit into this category and would be willing to help me with my research, please email me and I will send you a research questionnaire.

Email Clare Johnson at .