The best part about Daylight Saving Time in the fall is that extra hour we receive. Twenty-five hours in one day. A dream come true, right?

And while you may not realize it, that extra hour offers a prime time to tap into your imagination—without any effort on your part. That’s right—it’s possible to generate ideas in your sleep.

Whether they’re realistic or completely fantastical, dreams are a wonderful source for unique story ideas. You simply have to realize their creative potential. Here are a few ways to mine your dreams for your next big idea:

alarm clock

Photo by Rob and Stephanie Levy

Sweet Dreams

1. Capture your dreams.

Some of us recall our nighttime thoughts better than others. Don’t let those dreams slip away! Keep a pen and paper on your nightstand to scribble down the details you remember as soon as you wake up. Review those musings when you’re looking to stimulate your imagination.

2. Use the basic conflict.

Those bizarre happenings or unexplainable events in your dreams don’t have to show up in your writing (unless you’d like them to!). Instead, get to the heart of the main conflict in your dream and the emotions it elicited in you. Translate that conflict into the basis for your next story.

3. Pull out details.

What part of your dream intrigues you or stands out? Perhaps a person within it would make the perfect protagonist or villain. Or maybe the setting would be just right as a backdrop for your latest work-in-progress piece. Isolate the most interesting details in your dream and write away.

4. Look for the theme.

Whether you believe in dream interpretation or not, do a quick search to discover the common perceived meaning and apply that as a theme in your writing. For example, dreaming of your teeth falling out (a surprisingly common dream!) may indicate anxieties, feelings of powerlessness, or concerns with money—all great themes to fuel your creativity. Bottom line: check out a dream dictionary for some fascinating ideas!

Do you have a reoccurring dream? Would any part of your dreams make an amazing story?


Recall a recent dream you had. Use one of the strategies above (#2, 3, or 4) to write about the dream for fifteen minutes.

When you’re finished, please share your practice in the comments section. Or let us know how you use your dreams as writing inspiration.

Melissa Tydell is a freelance writer, content consultant, and blogger who enjoys sharing her love of the written word with others. You can connect with Melissa through her website, blog, or Twitter.

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