Monday, February 7, 2011

subconscious writing?

I'm hip-deep in revisions for my WIP. I thought I resolved some problems (such as the protags never eating or sleeping), so I did a quick reread. And, of course, I found another glaring problem, namely, a large dramatic event happens early in the book and no explanation is ever given. Nor do the characters ever wonder 'Why/how did this event occur?'. Ugh. So, I rolled up my sleeves, put on my thinking cap, mixed some metaphors and ...couldn't think of anything plausible to explain why/how. Double-ugh. I pondered and pondered and still nothing.

Thus, imagine my surprise the other day when I woke up with a great solution to the problem. Apparently, my subconscious had been working on the problem. Hurray, subconscious! If I could feed it some chocolate, I would. :)

The creative subconscious isn't a new idea. In Dr. Richard W. Hamming's classic seminar You and Your Research, he says,
If you are deeply immersed and committed to a topic, day after day after day, your subconscious has nothing to do but work on your problem. And so you wake up one morning, or on some afternoon, and there's the answer.

More specifically, for writing, Joel Fagin says in his writing tutorial The Subconscious,
[S]ubconscious knowledge.. can add depth and flaws to characters, become themes for a story and also covers the premises for a bunch of useful story concepts ... In a way, this is also pure character development. Those key moments when a character in a story changes from what he was and into what he will be are very often based on this.

And The subconscious works in the background and drops feelings, instincts and impressions into the conscious mind. ...The subconscious also does a massive amount of background processing in support of the conscious mind and is incredibly powerful. ...And the more you do [a] task ... the more refined the program becomes.

So there you have it, subconscious writing! I think I'll go take a nap, er, do some creative writing/thinking. :)

Has this ever worked for you?


  1. All the time.

    Subconcious creation is the only way that I have ever managed to break through writer's blocks.

    Since making that little discovery, I started to try writing out of my subconcious. Writing so fast that I don't have time to process what I am writing.

    It works, even if I sound insane.


  2. Interesting, Misha. Thanks.
    I like this idea of writing so fast one doesn't have time to process. I'm gonig to try it.
    Hey, I wonder if this is part of the idea of NanoWriMo! :)