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This is Not a Bed, It’s a Creativity Coach

· Article

This is Not a Bed, It's a Creativity Coach

Personal vegetarian chef, food marketer and president of The Veg Company, Sara Harrel, keeps an online inspiration folder of ideas she gathers from foods she’s tasted, read about or seen on TV.


When her inspiration folder fails to find the recipe or flavor combination she needs, she turns to sleep.


“If I’m stumped on a project, I’ll think hard on it as I fall asleep,” she shares. “It must be the last thing I think about before I go to sleep, pen and paper beside my bed. About half the time I’ll wake up in the middle of the night or in the morning and voila! The answer, or most of it, is born. I jot the answer quickly down before I forget, and when it’s time to tackle the project, I go to the kitchen and make it.”


Michael A. Grandner, a sleep expert and professor of psychiatry, psychology and medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, agrees that tracking dreams can be useful for creative people.


“Dreams are made to be forgotten —that’s just how they work physiologically,” he explains. “But they can be a rich source of inspiration and ideas. They represent your mind at its most open.” The trick, he says, is to record them as soon as you wake up.


Crime writer Pamela Blance understands the tenuous nature of recalling dreams.


“I find that the dreams I have for plots are forgotten as soon as I wake up, but they must germinate somewhere in the back of my mind because they come to me at the craziest times,” she tells.


She keeps a journal handy for her nighttime and day dreams, and says her subconscious has an uncanny way of weaving together her memories and life experiences with what she calls the “bombardment of daily crime on the news.” The resulting characters and plot lines are carefully woven in the Jamie Tremain series of books she co-writes with friend Liz Lindsay, including the recently-published The Silk Shroud.


For interior designer and artist Andrea Carini, dreams are vivid, technicolor portals into other worlds.


“In those instances I can get answers to questions I have in my waking life by questioning people in my dream,” she notes. And sometimes, the messages are more symbolic than direct.


“Over the years I have learned to read the symbols in my dreams,” she says. “Sometimes they are quite literal, like showing me a color palette or a scene that contains beautiful combinations of colors. Sometimes I see designs in things or graphics.”


One time, when she was designing sets for a film, she saw a strange fairytale fantasy scene in a dream, elements of which she used in the film to her producer and directors’ kudos.


Getting answers and “being guided” by her dreams, whether for work or her personal life, is something Andrea considers a gift — and one that anyone can tap into, if they want.




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