When creative tools become creative obstacles

2018-09-23 samara-doole-259145-unsplash.jpg

The flow of my dreams — the ones I’ve been working with to support my creative process — waxes and wanes, depending on how active I am in my practice when awake.

I noticed this in the last month after coming out of an intense dreaming period: multiple dreams per night, several nights per week, for nearly five months. I struggled on many mornings to finish transferring my waking impressions to my journal before the rest of the family finished breakfast. The flood of detail was so vivid that I was almost relieved on days when a dream dissolved before I could capture it.

I can’t not write these dreams down, I told myself, because the images were so clear. Every dream felt like a gift, each containing another piece of guidance or inspiration to move my creative planning forward for several projects in gestation. But receiving so much information felt like trying to drink from a fire hose. And with so much to process during my limited work hours, I had no time left for creative action.

It was time to put some gentle bounds on what looked like a boundless inception phase. Enough with the note-taking — it’s time to start writing for real, my inner voice said. Even my dreams had started suggesting as much in their own distinctive code.

I set my dream journal aside. Opened my laptop, and then my first-drafts folder. Started to type. The ideas from my dreams began to take shape. Not as the material gathering into sentences and paragraphs, but as frames or scaffoldings to stretch my work upon. 

Within days, the flow of new dreams had evaporated.

I felt slightly unsettled and adrift without them — after all, writing down my dreams had given me a connection like none other to my creative mind, and I was a little fearful that they had pulled away like an underappreciated friend. But I’ve also learned to listen to that inner voice when it tells me I’m ready to write. I’m trusting the lull in dreaming is now making way for new processes that will better serve me in the active phase of bringing my work into concrete form. And when it’s time to begin dreaming again, I will.

In the meantime, to continue nurturing the connection to my dreams, I’m taking this pause to look back at the visions that got less attention than I would have preferred earlier this summer. Not to look for missed messages, but to explore the images, symbols, and patterns I did not have time to appreciate. Deepening my dream glossary may not lead anywhere in this creative cycle, but as it starts over with the next project, I’ll have my interim discoveries to support me going forward.

What parts of your creative process are more active in the inception phase of your work? What parts are more active in the manifestation of it? What can you do to nurture your connection to either (or both) when one is less active? Share your thoughts with me by clicking the button below.