Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Turning Garbage into Gold: How to Write Well with Stream of Consciousness

You probably know the benefits of free writing or stream of consciousness writing. It helps to relax ourselves, brings out repressed emotions, and helps us confront hidden issues in our personality.

However this is about therapeutic benefits. Can we use soc writing to mine ideas from our subconscious? After all, popular texts celebrate the subconscious mind as a treasure house of knowledge. It is the silent partner who mulls over the inputs from your conscious mind and provides insights and solutions.

When you try to use soc writing in your literary pursuits, you may be disappointed that it does not provide much help other than to clear up your mind.

As one might surmise from Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, does transferring your thoughts to paper work magic and make you an expert if you keep at it for 10,000 hours? I doubted it. I did not think it would make me an expert. (Read about the benefits of free writing here). However, as the process goes on, I have had some inspiring insights:

In the beginning, all that comes out may appear to be garbage-incoherent, meaningless babbles that resemble a one-year-old’s scrawling. Very disappointing.

Hold on, don’t lose hope yet. This does not mean there is a scarcity of idea gems in your mind. You do have the occasional brainwave, right? But all of us hesitate or procrastinate putting those thoughts down, and they are lost forever. Thoughts are hard to grab, like Mercury.

While starting to free write, it is like learning to speak to a crowd: we are tongue tied; we don’t have confidence in ourselves. We are not relaxed, are not our natural selves, and do not enjoy the process.
Most writers will give up at this stage when they see the scrambled mumbo-jumbo of words on the screen. It is here that you must keep on writing.

Your subconscious is like a child—it will be happy that you have accepted it in spite of shortcomings, that you have faith in it. Self-acceptance relaxes. You become more relaxed while free writing and become your natural self, so that your thoughts and insights start to flow freely when you sit down to write. It is here that you will see garbage turning to gold.

Wait a minute, it isn't pure gold yet. But it definitely is gold ore that you can smelt through editing and refining to present something of remarkable value.

Note: If you already have some ore, you can turn it into pure gold with this guide from acclaimed author Bruce Ross-Larson : Edit Yourself: A Manual for Everyone Who Works with Words

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