Creative slumber

A couple days ago, I half woke up in the middle of the night, dizzy from a dreamy state of mind and with a repeating sentence in my head. I had for the first time in a long while spent the previous evening writing and I presume that to be the reason for at this moment feeling a strong urge to jot the sentence down. It went like this:

“There’s a story when and where you’d least expect it and that is why you should always practice to articulate these events, be it pitching an idea or explaining something to your children.”

I realise I might stretch the boundaries of tolerable narcissism as I’m basically quoting myself sleepwalking… and it is weird, yes. It may all actually just sound like mumbo jumbo. I do however find this to make a whole lot of sense in hindsight. I interpret it as writing is a tool for exercising ones ability to communicate an idea, and it should be captured during the very moment of revelation. Of course since I’m talking to myself, it seems to be directed to myself. I think I have secretly always enjoyed writing but without really giving it much attention. I guess this serves as a good reminder.

Staying in a mental state like this slumbering limbo makes me feel hazy, uncertain and slightly anxious. It may imply a lack of focus, but it feels like remaining in this state can possibly also spark inspiration. Since the majority of who we are and what defines us dwell in the subconscious, perhaps a slumbering state of mind brings us closer to our true self, or simply closer to our creative bearings. At the very least, I think the lack of immediate resolution in the line of thought makes us more likely to think of something unexpected.

This was more or less one of the creative processes that Thomas Edison used when trying to solve his problems. The inventor of the very symbol of innovation itself. What he did was to sit in his chair with a notebook by his desk, holding something like a heavy ballpoint pen in his hand while slowly falling to sleep. When he would actually nod off, he dropped the pen on the floor and the thud woke him up. He then picked it up again and started over. All this while contemplating on his puzzles, trying to think of something new. I learned this from a hilarious Interview with John Cleese (safe source) and the idea can seem silly at first, but there might actually be something to it. Not necessarily that you have to be close to falling asleep to be creative, but it resonates with the idea of staying close to uncertainty and embracing it. Related to this, my former colleague at Daresay wrote a brilliant blog post on the topic of uncertainty in design.

Maybe this creative slumbering concept can be turned into an unsettling ideation workshop format.

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