The dream journal serves multiple purposes that are vital to your growth, development and success in understanding the nature of dreams and ultimately becoming lucid. Yet the core purpose of a dream journal is to form a bridge between your normal waking consciousness and your dream consciousness. Failure to keep a dream journal will result in poor lucid dreaming results and frustration. If you don’t want to become one of those persons that have “tried” lucid dreaming but never gained lucidity then you must implement the dream journal technique.
It is quite simple, buy a journal that you will use ONLY for recording your dreams and keep it next to your bed. When you wake up from a dream, before you rush to your journal or even move a single muscle, just remain with your eyes closed and remember as many details as you can from your dream. This includes characters, situations, emotions, thoughts, odd events and whatever else happened during your dream. The primary purpose of a dream journal is collecting dream data. It also includes anything else that might have influenced your sleep and dreaming experience like the time you went to sleep, the time you had the dream, what was your emotional state and mental state when you went to sleep, lucid dreaming techniques used, etc.
A dream journal will help you improve you dream recall by converting short-term dream memories into long-term memories. As well you will notice that with consistent dream journal practice your dreams will become more vivid because whatever you focus upon and bring awareness in your life will become relevant information to your Reticular Activating System. Finally your dream journal data will allow you to become aware of dream signs.
Your dream journal can be used for another key element when it comes to achieving lucidity in your dreams and that is writing down your goal or intent prior to going to sleep and becoming lucid. This step alone is one of the most fundamental and important for successful lucid dreams. Writing down your goal for your next lucid dream will crystallize and ingrain your intent both in your conscious and subconscious mind. Failure to have a clear goal or intent when attempting lucidity will often result in doing whatever comes to mind during your lucid dream. This of course can be wonderful, yet if you are like most lucid dreamers who see lucid dreaming as an opportunity to explore, experience and manifest grand things while in the dream world, then you will surely want to remember what your initial goal was once you become lucid within a dream.
In addition to writing your goal, you can write and then visualize what will happen in your lucid dream prior to falling asleep. This will serve as a dream incubation where you do something to influence your dreams. This will often result in your dream scenery and events being related to your intent, serving therefor a double purpose:
1) Allowing you to remember what your intent is
2) Make it easier for you to fulfill your goal by being in the right environment
1) Write your dreams immediately upon awakening. If you engage in another activity like brushing your teeth or having breakfast your brain will become fully alert, focus on external reality and the short term memory of your dream will be lost or greatly diminished. If you find it challenging to get up and write your dreams right away you can get yourself a voice recorder with large buttons you can recognize in the dark, this will make it much easier and enjoyable, especially when recording a dream in the middle of the night when you want to fall back to sleep. Record your dreams on your voice recorder and later on write them in your dream journal (do not skip this step, the voice recorder is not a substitute).
2) For every dream create a title and write the time and date. When you create a title or name the theme of your dream it will increase your memory of it by the principle of association.
3) Underline or highlight your dream signs (oddities of the dream world that differ from waking reality).
4) Sometimes you will find it challenging to write down something you saw or experienced. This is a perfect opportunity to draw or sketch what you saw. It’s OK if your drawing looks like that of a 3 year old, welcome to the club ;)
5) If you don’t remember much don't concern yourself, write ANYTHING like: how you were feeling when you woke up, what thoughts you were having or any image. Remember that we all dream every night, if you don’t remember your dreams then keeping a dream journal will help you solve this dilemma.