Subconscious Creativity

Funnily enough, this idea came to me in the late hours of last night. This idea was for a post about how authors tend to get a lot of their ideas in the morning and the night. It intrigued me, so I made a mental note that it would be my post for today…

So, the question I am asking is: Why is it that when writing in the daytime, it can sometimes be strenuous to find ideas for a novel, but in early mornings or late evenings creativity tends to occur at the one time when we have got other things to do… Like, you know, getting up or going to sleep.

Surely, if someone’s goal for the day was to write more of their novel that they want to get published, productivity would combine with our creative side of our brain and come up with ideas for us to write about. However, what usually happens is, unless we have an idea beforehand, we are left staring out of the window, or in a state of deep thought where we are desperately searching for good ideas buried within our heads…

But anyway, enough with the description, now for the psychology. Every once in a while I do like to look into and explore psychological phenomena, and this one has always been an unexplained one for writers past and present.

First off, we need to do a general overview of what exactly sleep is. Basically, sleep is a subconscious action, since we are of course conscious, and our brain is active. Through sleep, we get dreams, and the subconscious is responsible for this. The subconscious tends to be the creative part that comes up with creative dreams during sleep. This can be useful, for example, if someone has a problem and chooses to “sleep on it”, it is actually rather good as our subconscious comes up with creative solutions to the problem.

So, when we get ready, in late evenings, to go to sleep, our subconscious gets ready to be “activated”, and so we feel creative because of it. This, as well as the morning alternative, is why we get ideas at those particular moments. We then have ideas, but as soon as we get up our conscious part of our minds take over. So instead, it’s harder to get creative ideas, as it’s often hard to cross into our subconscious section apart from when we need to sleep. This is why many people tell fellow writers to write an idea down as soon as they get it, as it tends to be a moment when the subconscious crosses into the conscious. It’s best to get the idea down then otherwise as it is genuinely lost, their subconscious may forget about the idea and when they think about it and try to remember, they’ll struggle as their subconscious will be focused on other ideas.

Another problem is that sleep is compulsory in order to survive, so we can’t constantly stay up. But on the other hand, those important moments give us the ideas that could make a great book. What’s the best way to balance the moment when someone gets an idea before and after sleep, and the blankness writers get in the daytime.

Well, we can’t change our daily routine. It’s obvious we need to get up, eat, work/play, sleep. It’s a general survival pattern as part of human life, so that cannot change. However, what can happen is that a notebook needs to be placed at our bedsides, so that if or should it happen, we can write it down quickly! Then, after the obligatory sleep, we can use the daytime to get as much prose from the notes, then repeat the process every day.

This is just my advice, but I’d like to stress, I’m not a professional author or psychologist, so it’s up to you what you think about it. Personally, I believe there’s no way to get rid of this pattern writers tend to get. I guess we have to deal with it… *sigh*

This post was mostly aimed at writers, but it can apply to others! Do you ever get late-night or early-morning ideas and you’re not a writer? Let me know in the comments!



4 thoughts on “Subconscious Creativity

  1. I liked reading the psychology around this. I’m a night owl and tend to get my best work done at a night. Generally my dreams provide inspiration for my work, there’s nothing like a good night of sleep!


    • Hi Angela! Thanks for commenting! I’m glad you liked my post! 🙂

      Me too! I tend to be able to stay up quite late without feeling tired. Usually late at night is when I tend to feel more productive, oddly enough…



  2. This is an interesting post – thanks! I find I also get a lot of ideas when driving to work in the morning, when out walking or while in the middle of some mundane household task like the washing-up. I think this is similar to the way we get ideas in our sleep, as it means we are not consciously thinking about writing.


    • Ooh, that’s an interesting idea. That’s true, I think writing is one of those things were ideas come to us when we don’t expect it. It’s interesting… Glad you enjoyed the post! – Thanks for stopping by and commenting! 🙂


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