Creative Dreaming

Artists have engaged in creative dreaming since the dawn of time. And it seems to be true whether they come from the fields of music, visual arts or writing. let’s quickly take a look at a few, well-documented examples:


In music, Paul McCartney was the recipient of a dream that created the Beatles pop song “Yesterday” back in the 1960’s. He apparently woke up in his girlfriend’s house already having the tune in his head. Then for years, he fooled around with the song, wondering all the time if it was actually something he had heard on the radio or somewhere else because he couldn’t believe it was his own. He used to sing words such as “Scrambled Eggs” instead of “Yesterday” to it because the eventual lyrics hadn’t yet fully formed in his head.

It was only much later when he felt he owned the song because nobody else had claimed it, that he set proper words to it and made it a popular hit.

This story has been documented in many places including here.

Strangely, McCartney seems to be a big player in the dream world and here is another story about his creative dreaming process:

I just was myself and I told Kanye various stories that had inspired me musically. One of them was how the song Let It Be arrived, which was through a dream I’d had in which I’d seen my mother, who had died 10 years previously.

But I was so inspired by that that I wrote the song. I told Kanye that, because he’d lost his mother. So then he wrote a song called Only One when I was just noodling around on the electronic piano. So he got the melody, I put the chords in and the style and that’s how it happened.

So said Paul McCartney on the BBC

Visual Arts

In the visual arts, one of the stated aims of the Surrealist movement in the early twentieth century was to examine the seemingly contradictory states of waking reality and dreams. For example, Salvador Dali was one of the most famous protagonists of this movement, and he reportedly painted many of his amazing pictures by copying his dream images.

He even went further than this to say about his picture “Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening” that it was intended “to express for the first time in images Freud’s discovery of the typical dream with a lengthy narrative”.

His method of capturing dream images was to sit in a chair while holding a large iron key in such a way that as he dozed off to sleep the key would drop from his fingers and wake him up from the early onset of his dreams. This method is clearly laid out in Psychology Today


In writing, Robert Louis Stevenson attributed many of his stories and inspirations from interactions with his “Brownies”. These were little people who appeared in his reveries of dozing sleep. Over many years of writing, he praised these Brownies and considered his good fortune was based on the ideas for plots and even complete chunks of writing from these episodes.

Stevenson talked openly about harnessing his Brownies from his imagination and turning dreams into fully formed literary works. See more at the British Library.


Creative dreaming has also inspired many other people too, not only in the arts but in the sciences as well. So if you have a knotty problem you want help with, then let your dreams have some input into your possible solutions.