In my copy of Stephen King’s The Green Mile, King writes about how he structures stories as he’s trying to go to sleep each night. Here he is: “I tell [them] as I lie in the dark, writing them in my mind just as I would on a typewriter… Each night I start over at the beginning, getting a little further before I drop off.”
That’s me too. It was only recently, though, that I heard the phrase alpha state to describe that relaxed, almost dream-like frame of mind in which we are more creative and receptive; less critical and convergent in our thinking. Finding out that something you do - a place to which you go as you drop off - has a proper name and everything... well that somehow gives it credence.
At the moment I'm starting each night by conjuring up an imaginary pine-locked mountain town called Navigation, for a project that may or may not ever emerge from its chrysalis. It seems, for me at least, that this alpha-state pre-sleep stage is a sort of testing ground for ideas. If it's not a pleasure going to sleep thinking them through, or if they quickly become tiresome, they're returned to the netherworld from which they came.
Fingers crossed for Navigation. I like it a lot.