Which do you think it [the sense of extraordinary creativity in a dream] is:
My best guess is
3) Somehow, my brain is telling me “this is great!” – when actually there’s nothing there. It’s just a “feeling” that it's clever.
though I’ve had a few waking-from-dream experiences that seem exceptions.
I’ve long made it a habit to journalize my dreams – not all of them, but ones that I wake from feeling they’re worth it – so have gotten pretty experienced at recalling them, and aware of the vagaries and outright inaccuracies involved in the process. As a rule, when I’ve been able to carefully, accurately (I think – how to be sure of such a thing, I don’t know) and in detail recall a “great thing” from a dream, I find that it’s only a little impressive to my waking mind.
The exceptions I mention are less exceptions – they’re not anything more creative than I can be in waking life – than remarkable. These two come to mind:
This one is from memory, circa 1995 (it’s in a paper journal, so not easy to retrieve):
I’m in a pleasant movie, driven by an intriguing plot, good scenery and shot composition, sympathetic characters, strong dialog, etc. I am a character. Lucidly, I realize I’m beginning to wake. I tell this to another character, explaining that I wish I could make this movie in the waking world. He says “don’t worry – in 5 years or so, it’ll be possible for people to make computer generate movies using AI agent actors,” followed by some elaboration.
I woke thinking this was likely to be proven true, although time has shown otherwise.
This one from my journal, from 1/17/12:
Bouncing beach ball in office becomes game. Chasing in halls, people bigger than me, dozens on each side, overturning cube walls and shelves. A trick: re-righting shelves and walls, cleaning up, I slip out into service hall, walk toward exit, one of several.
But massive annular elevator-type doors materialize in hall, close, fade to disappear, leaving just a rock wall. As I approach, a door appears, opens, closes, disappears again. Next cycle, I and another (human form but not entirely human) get through, climb slick hard dark wood ramp to top, where a plaque shows lines from "Ozymandias", in archaic English.
Half WAKE, think about languages, how several translations must be near, and REENTER dream
... finding a metal-paged book, in Russian, the other's language. Upon reading, we both become black silhouette cutouts, are cast down next to plinth in desert, completing poem's tableau. WAKE, feeling frightful awe.
After finally, slowly completely waking from this emotionally intense dream, I recalled a song heard in it, and found I was able to recall it well enough to sing and play it. It was a rather maudlin, soft pop song, which, were it not for it having lots of “oohs” and “aahs” in its refrains (for some reason, I’m a sucker for such songs), I wouldn’t have paid much attention, let alone liked. After some internet searching of several short lyric phrases, I concluded it was, at least lyrically, original.
By my songwriting standards (which are pretty bad – friends know my songs mostly so that they can avoid hurting my feeling by telling me how bad they are when I play them), it was a pretty good one. Unfortunately, thinking I would get back to it later, I wrote its words and a few chord hints, not its notes in tab or staff form, then didn’t, so can’t recall it well enough to play it now.
I distinctly recall remember, with a typical amount of effort, this song, as if I had just heard it played in waking life, an mental activity very distinct from imagining an original song or poem. Of course, I can’t be sure the former, not the latter, is what actually occurred, but in no dream I can recall has a song or poem I recall from it been other than recognizable, or impossible to recall, the suggestion of a song/poem rather than an actual one.