How To Best Journal “The Theme of the Night”

Sometimes something happens during the day. 

Whatever it is, you can’t stop thinking about it.

Or maybe you watch something on the Internet.

Whatever it is, it fills your thoughts when you sleep.

They’re not dreams. Oh, no. Dreams have more form and shape than these thoughts.

These are ideas that you’re mulling.

It would be called a “reverie” if you were awake when you were thinking them.

Your brain is busy making connections to other experiences, things you’ve seen and heard, and information.

You’re learning, putting things into context. ALL. NIGHT. LONG.

You’re not really creating, however. You might. Soon. When you take off and make a connection, however, there’s a good chance that you’ll start.

And it’s exciting when you do.

You’re not worrying, either. You might, however, once you decide if the information is a threat, however.

For now, what you’re doing is more like evaluating.

Say you’ve heard about an interesting experiment involving mice living in a colony and forming their own mice society.

You’re thinking about it. “Mice Society” is the theme of the night.

By the time the morning rolls around, there could the memories of a lot of different thoughts there all about the mice, their society, the experiment, and the ramifications.

There’s way too many to go writing them all down.

Where do you start? How do you start?

It doesn’t fit well into the SOM format. The thoughts aren’t a dream.

How the hell do you journal the “theme of the night?”

Describe the trigger briefly

Ask yourself this: what started you thinking in this direction?

You may be tempted to go on and on. It’s better to keep your description short and simple. If you need to go into more detail, do it later. It’s better to get a wider variety of thoughts down from the experience so you don’t forget.

By describing the trigger, you can recall the trigger more fully later.

If it’s something you saw on the Internet, bookmark it. I like to use a service called There are others, too.

What does the trigger make you think of?

Then do this: List the thoughts out, one by one.

You can make a list of them: 1, 2, 3, 4 …

You can also make a mind map, which is best thought of as a guide to the ideas.

The goal here is to create something that you can use as a later reference.


On mornings like these, your dream journal might not contain the output of your pen easily. You might find yourself writing in the margins and all over the place. You might be frustrated if you have a visual in your mind that you can’t capture on paper. There’s not a good solution for this. You’ll just have to accept your frustration and be glad that you’re not trying to keep a journal on a phone, in a recording, or on a computer. It could be worse.

When your reverie winds down, you might decide to keep writing the ideas in another place. That’s okay. This is the process by which dreams inspire full-blown projects.

Whatever you do, don’t see this as a problem. This is what intelligent, creative people have done for thousands of years. If you treat it as a problem, the thoughts will go away and you’ll become much duller. Don’t be dull. It’s a form of inspiration. Grab the flame of “the theme of the night” even if it burns a little!

The key is to remember to describe the trigger and then list what the trigger makes you think of. You, your creativity, and maybe even society will be better off if you do.

Also on the blog:


James Cobb, RN, MSN is the founder of the Dream Recovery Journal, one of the top sleep blogs on the Internet. In our opinion, it’s one of the best sites for information about journaling, too. 

We use some affiliate links on this website. If you click on a link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission. This arrangement does not affect our opinions. 




There's gold (figurative) in your dreams.
Join our list today.