“If I’m trying to sleep, the ideas won’t stop. If I’m trying to write, there appears a barren nothingness.” ~Carrie Latet

How often has this happened to me? It’s the reason I keep my journal and notebooks right next to the bed, along with an assortment of pens. Always, as I’m about to drift off to sleep, some marvelous little nugget rattles its way out of my half-unconscious brain. And yet, when I sit and confront the blank page, whether the paper variety or the electronic one, I can struggle for hours with nothing worthwhile to show for it.

I read an article awhile back on why this happens. Apparently creativity often comes calling in this half-sleeping, half-waking state. Mathematicians, composers, writers all have achieved insights and solved problems while dreaming, or in that half-waking state just before we really wake up. There were times when Einstein got stuck on a problem, he took a nap.

I guess that’s why I hit the “zone” (you know, when the words start coming without effort and new ideas surface that you couldn’t have forced out with pliers an hour ago) when I sit staring out the window, seemingly idly daydreaming. Maybe that’s what some writers mean when they talk about their characters taking on a life of their own.

The key to creativity for me seems to be when I can switch off the conscious and let the subconscious take over. The only drawback is, it seems to happen when I’m nowhere near a pen and paper, or a computer. I finally learned to carry a small notebook with me at all times in my purse, and even a new blank journal. I can’t count how many ideas I’ve lost for lack of pen and paper.