There is the theory of the hypnogogic state of consciousness… this is the state just before you fall asleep, or just after you have fallen asleep. Just when you begin dreaming, but you are still awake enough to be aware that you are asleep. It is as if you are watching yourself. Your dreams are very vivid. Ideas abound. I don’t remember who it was off the top of my head, maybe Davinci or twain or Einstein… perhaps none of them, but I remember the story where he used to sit at his desk with a string attached to a bell hanging above him. just as he fell asleep his arm would fall which would make the bell ring. He would then wake up out of dreaming and immediately start writing down everything he could remember from the dream great thoughts can come out of this state of consciousness. There is another story about another man, again I cannot remember who it was, who used to do the same thing by holding a ball in his hand so as soon as he fell into sleep his grip would loosen and the ball would drop to the floor waking him up and he would also immediately write down everything he could remember.
It is a given that artists of all kinds, writers, composers, etc leave pens and notepads by their bed and all over their home so as not to miss an idea. as Loren eisley contemplated once ideas are so fleeting… one minute you are in the center of it and in the next minute you don’t even remember that you had an idea at all about anything. It is quite remarkable how the brain works like this. kind of sad and frustrating but very true. I do have a pen and pad next to the bed of course, and in every room of the house. always have. in the car. in my back pocket of course. and it is true, I find that some of the best ideas come just before sleep…. in that hypnogogic state somewhere between being awake and dreaming… when it is hard to tell if you are thinking or you are dreaming. This is a magical place. some of the best ideas come from this state. But the problem of course is in the remembering. Hence the tricks that past creatives have invented to wake themselves up out of it and take advantage of it. By my bed I keep a special pen I found online that has a light at the very tip of it so you don’t have to turn on a light in the room. You just give the pen a little twist and this light comes on, enough to light up the paper you are writing on. It’s a brilliant invention. I would be lost without it.
When I am really knocked out and can’t even sit up to write, I use another method whereby as I get a thought that I wish to remember the next day I hold my hand up in the air for a few seconds with my forefinger up signifying that I have one idea to remember in the morning from the night before. if I get another I will hold my hand up again for a few more seconds with two fingers up to remind myself that there were two ideas. And so on. I have become accustomed to automatically asking myself how many fingers I had held up the night before just before I fell asleep in order to re-trigger those thoughts. It almost always works. 90% of the time I can remember upon contemplation what the thoughts were so I can get them down when I first wake up.