I woke up this morning with the images of a very powerful dream resonating in my head. I was walking with two other men along a stretch of empty highway. We came across a man lying on the ground. We stopped and looked at him and then continued on. A few moments later, one of the men I was walking with was attacked by the man who had been lying on the ground. My companion delivered several defensive blows and knocked the attacker to the ground. We continued on. The man got up again, and this time he came after me and started kicking and trying to bite me. I awoke to the image of a distended jaw with teeth snapping viciously in the air.
As we would say these days, "WTF?" I have no idea what that was about, but it left enough of an impression to get me doing a little Googling on dreams. Theories of dreams abound, but there does not seem to be any settled consensus on the types, purpose, or mechanics of dreaming. I have always had vivid dreams ever since I can remember, and I have never really understood their source or their meaning. Turns out nobody else does either.
I came across an article written by Gayle Greene PhD. In it she says that there is a lot of research on sleep—she regularly attends the annual meetings of the Associated Professional Sleep Society (who knew?)—but not so much about dreams. One thing she said really caught my interest. She referred to a study by P.F. Pagel, University of Colorado Medical School, that "found a much higher recall and use of dreams among actors, writers, and directors" than among other participants.
Writing is an intensely visual process, at least it is for me. When I am really into it, I watch the scene unfold in my mind's eye like a black-and-white movie on TV. Then I put what I see into words, trying to recreate the rhythm and feel of that visualization of the scene. Basically, I'm walking around a good chunk of the day in a semi-dream phase as I let the ruminations of my subconscious brain bubble up to the surface.
So it makes sense to me that writers and other creative people would remember their dreams with greater recall. I think of it as a positive feedback loop. You spend all your waking hours day-dreaming about plots and characters and scenes. Sleep dreams are a natural extension of that process, so it makes sense that the line between the two would be closer among creative people, who are halfway in the dreaming world most of the time.
Anyway, it's a theory.