If you want more innovative ideas, pay attention to your dreams. Many creative ideas have arrived, seemingly out of the blue, while someone slept:
• Robert Louis Stevenson was intrigued with the concept of good and evil in personality and wanted to write a story around the idea, but a plot would not come. For two days he racked his brain looking for an idea. On the second night, he had a dream where he saw two or three scenes that eventually appeared in Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Early the next morning, his wife recalls, “I was awakened by cries of horror from Louis. Thinking he had a nightmare, I awakened him. He said angrily, ‘Why did you wake me? I was dreaming a fine bogey tale.’ I had awakened him at the first transformation scene.”
• Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards regularly kept a guitar and a tape recorder by his bed to capture ideas that came to him in the night. One morning he awoke to see the tape recorder running. He hadn’t recalled waking in the night, so he assumed that he had accidently pushed the RECORD button in his sleep. He rewound the tape and there, “in some sort of ghostly version, is [the main riff of the hit song ‘Satisfaction’]. It was a whole verse of it. And after that, forty minutes of me snoring. I actually dreamt the damned thing.”
• Paul McCartney composed the melody for “Yesterday” based on a dream he had one night in 1964. “I woke up one morning with a tune in my head, and I thought, ‘Hey, I don’t know this tune—or do I?’ It was like a jazz melody. I went to the piano and found the chords to it, made sure I remembered it, and then hawked it round to all my friends, asking what it was: ‘Do you know this? It’s a good little tune, but I couldn’t have written it because I dreamt it.’”
Dream recall and sharing was a common practice in most cultures throughout history. Up until about 150 to 200 years ago, virtually all people in all cultures kept track of their dreams and shared their dreams with others. Carefully documented studies on different cultures demonstrate that dreams were almost universally considered to be sources of personal knowledge and cultural innovations.
One study noted, “Dreaming is a creative basis for what might be called higher knowledge in the Native American context…. Dreams and visions constantly revealed new applications of many types such as: inventive technologies, hunting methods, warfare strategies, healing practices, and herbal formulations, along with other innovations in culture. For example, the origin of fire making was attributed to visionary experience by the Lakota ….”
If you are looking for better answers, your dreams are often where they lie.