Keeping a dream journal is a key component in the quest for lucidity. First of all, they can aid in Dream Recall – and what’s the point in having lucid dreams if you can’t recall them? Also, reviewing your journal can help you identify Dream Signs, another key to attaining lucidity.
The easiest way to start a dream journal is to have something simple at your bedside, like a pad of paper and a pen. You can transfer to a prettier and neater notebook later if you wish, but content is most important initially. (Try and make your Dream journal look special and - more importantly - feel special to you.)Then keep it in reaching distance. This way, you don’t have to wake up too much to write down your dream. It is very important that you don’t get too distracted, or you might lose too much of the dream to recall anything significant.
TIP: Keep the paper and pen on the bed itself, so all you have to do is roll over and start writing without even opening your eyes.
Now, if you’re going to do it, you might as well do it right. Write in your journal IMMEDIATELY upon waking. The moment you wake up, you have already forgotten a large chunk of your dream, and will gradually forget more throughout the day. So it is very important to write down what you can the instant you awake. A 500 page novel isn’t necessary, just the key points that will help you recall the dream later on when you go back to read your entry. If your recall is fuzzy or almost non-existent, try to write down images, colors, feelings, anything that you remember. Writing them down gradually increases your ability to recall dreams.
A funny thing about dream recall is that even if you don’t recall the dream upon waking, you might still recall your dreams later on. Events during the day (or the night as the case might be) could still trigger your memory of the dreams you had earlier. Take note of what you recall in these moments and jot them down later in your dream journal.
If you find your Dream journal to be a bit empty and filled with more cobwebs than dreams, you might also try writing down your intent on recalling the next dream. This could help in your dream recall for the next dream you’ll have. Another tip would be making up a dream entry altogether if your recall drops to zero. Your previous dream just might sneak in from your sub-conscious when you try thinking up dreams of your own.
Now that you have your little pink fuzzy notebook with the rainbow colored entries in sparkly bubble handwriting, and your recall has improved 10-fold, you’re probably wondering how this is all supposed to help you attain lucidity. If you read through your journal, you may start to notice recurring elements. Whether it is the same setting, person, animal or object, often something that repeats in your dream could be a personal dream sign. Dream Signs can be a handy tool in becoming lucid because you can learn to do reality checks whenever you see them. (One example is a girl who had recurring dreams about tornadoes. She dreamt about them so often that she eventually began to question whether or not she was dreaming when she saw them. This dream sign became the key to her first lucid dream.)
Also, as I have mentioned before, Dream Journals help in Dream Recall, an essential component to lucid dreaming as you might actually forget your Lucid dreams upon waking. More than that, the boost in dream recall allows for recalling dreams vividly. Dream recall and dream vividness are closely related. With an increase in recall, your dreams would start to seem more real and life-like as you recollect them. Obviously, normal dreams are a lot more enjoyable to look back on when they are simply more vivid. There’s not much fun in recalling vague notions of what was happening in your head compared to reliving the experience through memory.
Finally, if writing your dreams in a cute little notebook isn’t your bag, you can always opt for alternatives, like keeping a tape recorder handy. Even talking about your dreams to a loved one upon waking is better than nothing, but may not be as effective or yield results as quickly as writing in a dream journal. The idea here is to improve dream recall, and find recurring elements. And to have fun! Who knows what could come of it? After all, Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein came about from a dream she had. Good thing she wrote it down.