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Stream of Consciousness Essay

Updated on December 17, 2016
TessSchlesinger profile image

Globetrotter, author, and thinker with interests in environment, minimalism, health, dancing, architecture, décor, politics, and science.

Example of speed of writing

Occasionally, there are writers that are able to spew out books at a rate that others can only dream of. Such a one was Barbara Cartland. This amazing author was able to publish (and obviously write) twenty three books per year. If you think about that, that meant that because she had so many other calls on her time, that she was, at times, writing an entire book in a week, When we know something so well that the conscious and the unconscious seem to be one and the same, then the unconscious knowledge and skill that we have becomes a powerful tool in what we do. I'm pretty sure that Barbara Cartland used Stream of Consciousness when writing. To some extent, I also do. I thought I'd share what I do with you.

Definition of Stream of Conscious Writing

A good definition would be a process whereby information flows into the mind so easily that it is effortless. Many bestselling authors have noted during the years that the story tells itself, and this is, indeed, true for myself. The author of Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert, has spoken at a TED event expressing the idea that the Romans believed that this process of flow was the result of a genius sitting on the shoulder of the artist. Thus if the genius didn’t provide the ‘inspiration,’ the artist didn’t claim writers block or some other issue, they simply said that the genius hadn’t come calling.

But, of course, we know that there is no magical genius providing us with a story, so why does the story come pouring down for some and not for others?

Briefly, the unconscious mind is a storage tank for every bit of information that we have fed into it. So, if we haven’t bothered to learn grammar, there’s no way it can produce perfect wording. And if we haven’t imbibed a wide repertoire of experience and knowledge, its banks of possible ideas aren’t going to be that plentiful. Nevertheless, the unconscious mind has a far greater capacity than the conscious mind for originality and putting together facets of information in an imaginative way than the conscious mind has. When we wake up from a dream that seems like a great idea for a story, remember that the source of that dream is the unconscious mind.

Brain rhythms - Beta, Alpha, Theta, Delta

There are four different types of brainwave rhythms. The first, beta, is the one that we all use for day to day interactions. The second, alpha, is known to be operative when people are in a state of flow. The third, theta, is that brief period between the time when we are neither asleep nor awake. Those who have abilities in the psi world will tell you that this is when dimensional doors open. The last state, Delta, is the state of our brains when we are asleep.

The greatest flow of creativity comes to those who operate in an alpha or theta state, and it is these altered states of consciousness which writers and other artists try to access. Essentially, if we could access the unconscious mind which contains the total of all that we have experienced, plus the ability to put all the factors together into an unusual, exciting story, the storytelling that would result would not only be quicker but a lot better.

Barriers

There are several barriers that inhibit the flowing of information from the unconscious mind to the conscious mind. While most of them can be eradicated with some work, I suspect that some are physiological. In the same way that some people have more synapses between the right brain and the left brain and so creativity is easier for them, I suspect that there is some biological aspect that makes it easier for some to access information in the unconscious mind.

That said, in a relaxed trance state, information flows from the unconscious mind. It, therefore, stands to reason that intense emotions like anger, fear, tension, irritation, and other negative emotions all block the flow.

Barbara Cartland in 1925 in her flapper fashion outfit.
Barbara Cartland in 1925 in her flapper fashion outfit. | Source

Linking to the Unconscious Mind through Brain Entrainment Tools

In days gone by, alcohol and other relaxants were used by artists to relax the brain so that the creativity could flow. Naturally there are some negative consequences to that, so it’s probably better to use another method. A better method is to use a brain entrainment tool that uses light and rhythm to put the mind into an Alpha state.

Because the brain naturally follows the rhythm of both flickering light and musical rhythm, if the light or the rhythm are at the same pace that the human brain uses when in alpha state, then the brain will switch to alpha state. The same goes for the other states. Any writer who uses this kind of equipment on a regular basis will find that his (or her) mind will become more imaginative and more lucid. Better creativity, storytelling, and writing are the results. Dr. Lloyd Glaubermann is the creator of a particularly effective set of hypnoperipheral CDs which work as well. Otherwise, there is light and sound equipment on the market.

Meditation

Yet another way of relaxing sufficiently to be able to access the unconscious mind is to meditate. My issue with it is that it can take a decade to learn the skills which enable the easy deliverance of the information we want. So, for myself, using brain entrainment tools are much easier. Of course, you could be lucky enough to have practiced yoga or meditation for years, and if so, then you are well on your way.

Money, Wealth & Prosperity
Money, Wealth & Prosperity

I have used all of Glaubermann's programs. He has one on creativity but it doesn't seem to be available anymore. I think the best one I used was the 'stress' one. That said, they all do exactly the same thing. They make it easier for the conscious mind to connect with the unconscious mind. So it doesn't really matter which one you use...

 

Quality of writing

There are limitations to the quality of story one gets from the unconscious mind, though. If one is not well read or has extensive experience of many cultures, many countries, many languages, etc. then the unconscious mind doesn’t have a lot of information to work with. Some people spend their entire lives in one small town, never read a book, watch soap operas as a means of entertainment, and then are surprised that it’s so difficult to write a story.

Story writing is the result of extensive information and experience. When one has libraries full stored in the unconscious mind, then it simply unloads. There is also another factor, and I’m going to use Barbara Cartland again. She wrote an endless number of regency romances, but in order to do that she had to have a solid knowledge of that period. It had to be so entrenched that she didn’t have to think about it or research it. She just knew it. Somewhere along the line she had learnt about regency England and when it came to writing, it just poured out of her. So if one is going to write a detective novel, then one has to have a pretty solid background in what detectives do plus have an extensive memory of case histories. It’s vital to be able to have information to draw upon.

There is also another factor. The old adage is true. Garbage in - Garbage out. If one has a lot of garbage in the unconscious mind, nothing great is going to come out of it. If one doesn't know how to spell, write well, or have buckets of inaccurate information, the unconscious mind is certainly not going to produce a highly entertaining novel. The unconscious mind can only use what is stored inside. So some like Barbara Cartland could write at the speed she did because she had all the knowledge from years of reading and study. In the end, you see, reading all those books, traveling the world, working through intense issues in one's life, all add to the knowledge base in the unconscious mind. Both the quantity and the quality of what will come to us when we use this method is entirely dependent on the quality and quantity of information that we have fed ourselves during our live times.

Liz Hurley famously played the devil in her movie, Bedazzled. It was very entertaining, and I wonder if that movie didn't set the groundwork for the story below at an unconscious level. :)
Liz Hurley famously played the devil in her movie, Bedazzled. It was very entertaining, and I wonder if that movie didn't set the groundwork for the story below at an unconscious level. :) | Source

I wrote this is 15 minutes - as is!

The devil doesn’t exist, of course, so I don’t know exactly who the pact was with. Suffice to say, the details were clear cut. I didn’t have to give my heart - or my soul - for that matter. I just owed a certain number of years in service and that sounded a pretty good deal, I felt. Initially, anyway.

It started off on a hot, humid day. The dust was in my nostrils from the dirt road I was walking on. My Chevy had broken down and I was in no mood for human company. Perhaps that’s why the whole thing started.

I’d been walking for three miles when I felt the presence of something behind me. It wasn’t a good feeling, and for the first time, it occurred to me that I was alone on a very long road with no sign of intelligent – or helpful – life around me. I turned but saw nothing.

I walked on, now more aware of my solitariness, my flesh getting that cold feeling when we know we are not alone, but not having proof of anything else. The day seemed colder, too, the hot humidity seeming to slink away to places more accommodating.

A mile or so from that point, I knew there was something there and I turned once more. She was behind me, walking in step with me and gazed at me mockingly. She was something. They say God is beautiful. They haven’t seen the devil yet.

‘Oh,’ she said, ’you noticed. I was wondering how long it would be.’

‘Who are you?’ I asked.

‘Your every desire,’ she said.

She was a smoothie, all right.

The cold was disappearing now. I guess I was getting acclimatized and I began to take an interest in the proceedings.

‘Anything I can do for you?’ I asked, knowing full well the outcome of that.

‘I rather thought it was what I could do for you.’

‘Well, get that heap of metal working for a start,’ I said. In retrospect, it seems such a small thing to have asked. The price I have to pay now seems enormous.

It didn’t take a minute. Before me stood my Chevy, all new, all its working parts just the way they should be.

‘Hop in, I said, ever the cavalier gentleman.

‘We need to discuss payment,’ she said.

‘Yeah, yeah, how much. My immortal soul?’ I asked, and for a moment, just a moment, I felt the dread. A cold and creeping dread, I might say. Why is it that when we are in the moment of a miracle, we never think about what we’re doing.

‘No, just a year’s service for each year I supply services to you.’

‘Is that all?’ I asked.

‘Yeah, yeah,’ she said and was gone.

The road seemed drearier after that. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it then, but I understand now.

The car took me to the next town where I bartered it for a battered Ferrari, drove some miles out of town, did the conversion bit and continued down the road in a brand new model.

The next big city was Los Angeles and it wasn’t too long before I found a buyer for my red convertible. It was good money. No questions asked about license papers, no lies told in return. Just a car for sale. Los Angeles is a city where the blurry borders between the night side and the light side make that sort of transaction possible.

I flourished.

Then, within a year and a bit, I found out there was a contract on my head, a killer taking pot shots at me. I wasn’t happy. I sought the devil and I found her.

‘Hey, what’s happening here?’ Once more I felt that cold come close. It’s a horrible, terrible cold. I felt the gooseflesh but a man must be a man, take the good with the bad.

‘Oh, payback time,’ she said.

‘Payback time?’ I’ve hardly started, I said. ‘What’s with the guys trying to wipe me out?’

‘Oh, remember the cars you sold them? Well, cars only last a year, then revert to what they were. Slowly, naturally, but, well…

She left it in the air, but I got the gist. Time to skip town for a while.

‘So I’ve had a year of high living – and now I must pay with my life?’ I paused. ‘That doesn’t sound like a good deal at all.’ I thought it expedient then to ask what the one year’s (and a bit) payback would be.

‘Oh, you lucky boy,’ she said. ‘You get to be my personal companion.’

Well, I should have been happy, I guess. The Devil is a beautiful woman but there’s more to it than that. There’s the other side of her.

I’ve got another 6 months of my contract. I’m not renewing it.

Have you considered using Stream of Consciousness writing?

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Summing up...

So to sum up, the unconscious mind is an amazing computer that puts together all sorts of tidbits of information that we have stored there throughout our lives, and when we sit down to write a story, all we really need to do is sit down, start up the computer, put our hands on the keyboards, and wait for the first line. I do exactly that. J

© 2015 Tessa Schlesinger

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    • just helen profile image

      just helen 21 months ago from Dartmoor UK

      I write children's stories and once I dreamed an entire story. When I awoke I committed it to paper, and have been told it's a great, original story!

      I think it's true - stories do seem to write themselves. It feels as though I am channeling when I write.

    • TessSchlesinger profile image
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      Tessa Schlesinger 21 months ago from South Africa

      Hi Just Helen, yes, it does feel like 'channeling,' doesn't it? :)

    • Virginia Matteo profile image

      Virginia Matteo 8 months ago

      I'm an editing freak so it usually takes a lot of time for me to finish one story. I'm tempted to give stream of consciousness a try, though, it sounds like much more fun :)

    • TessSchlesinger profile image
      Author

      Tessa Schlesinger 8 months ago from South Africa

      @Virginia Matteo Well, as I explain in the article, it really depends on what is inside your head. If you are an 'editing' geek, then you will probably automatically have good grammar. So it will come out okay. :)

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