Writing at the Speed of the Unconscious

Sometimes I lie in bed pondering, well, pretty much everything. Except maybe how fast my subconscious mind might be. Cuz, hey, with all the regret I have on my plate, who has time for speed?

Kate Arms-Roberts, OTOH, is so into this thing that she has me spinning too:

typewriter-tvwriter.comby Kate Arms-Roberts

What The Subconscious is to every other man, in its creative aspect becomes, for writers, The Muse. ~ Ray Bradbury

Subconscious or unconscious mental processes harbour treasure for writers. Our brains store the facts we have absorbed from living in the world even if we are not sure how to access them. The images and passions that fill our dreams are the stuff that makes our writing rich, if only we can connect with them.

Our conscious minds have integrated social messages about appropriateness, safety, and quality of craftsmanship. If the conscious mind is allowed too much control, especially in the early stages of a project, a writer’s work suffers. Images are not specific, metaphors become cliched or superficial, emotional truths and hard realities are avoided, and the work fails to live up to its potential.

Later, when a first draft is being crafted into a well-told story or the strongest possible argument, writers use the conscious mind to engage in analysis and conscious craftsmanship. But at the beginning, those critical faculties cause more problems than they solve.

The Unconscious Mind is Fast

Getting the unconscious to work on a problem in the background often benefits from slow, calm, repetitive activities: taking a shower, walking, sleeping, driving, washing the dishes, or folding laundry. Keeping the unconscious mind in charge becomes more difficult as one moves from rumination on a creative idea to production of a creative product. Some would-be writers never get past the blank page, facing the classic manifestation of writer’s block.

Productive writers develop practices and tricks to silence their internal editors and get their heavy-handed conscious minds out of the way during the creation of first drafts.

The unconscious mind is fast. The conscious mind is slower.

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