Monday, May 3, 2010

The Writing Arsenal: The Subconscious Mind

Everyone has one. It just rides around with you all day and surfaces when you're sleeping to give you weird dreams.

No, I am not talking about the salami sandwich you had for lunch. I'm talking about your subconscious! For the average Joe on the street, it's an unused organ, like an appendix or gall bladder. But for a writer...oo la la! A veritable treasure trove of possibility awaits the person who taps into what it has to offer. But how, pray tell, does one tap in? Relax.

No, that's how you tap in. You relax. The time of day when I am most relaxed is in the morning after I wake up. As I get prepared for the day, I pray, read my Bible, and let my mind wander. This is when I get my best writing ideas. The other time, which is not nearly as productive because I'm worn out is when I'm falling asleep at night.

What do those two times have in common?
• Relaxed state of mind
• No outer demands being placed on my brain (communication, problem solving, saving the world, organizing the silverware drawer, etc.)

It seems to me that life gets awful busy sometimes. There are days that I look back, finally standing as a willing victim at the precipice of sleep, only to find I haven't written a single word for the day. Mondays are like that. Mondays are simply not my own from beginning to end, and there's very little I can do about it. Of course any writer will tell you that's bad. Writing takes daily commitment, and you should have a word quota which you fill every day, rain or shine, no matter what. But on Mondays there's just not enough time in the day for all the activities that have to be completed. The result is that the only writing I will get done on Mondays will come in the form of creating scene cards which go everywhere with me and journaling at the end of the day.

Since Mondays do have a beginning and end, however, it means there are at least two times for neutral brain activity so I can relax and reap from my subconscious plot/character/dialogue builder.

What are your best ideas for creating a relaxed situation which allows you to use your subconscious to get creative and problem solve. Do you take a walk? Hang laundry? Take a day at the spa? When do you feel most creative? Where are you when the best ideas come to you?


  1. In general the only way I can get any writing done is to clean the house first (that way the clutter, dishes, or laundry doesn't clammer for my attention) or else LEAVE the house.

  2. What you do is assign each child to one station so that frees you up for writing. Then you can promise them a really awesome story to read them at bedtime because you were able to go write.

  3. So, if your subconsious mind is an arsenal what kind of weapons does it contain? Is it kind of like a squirt gun? or more like a bazooka.