08 February 2011

subconscious writing?

I'm hip-deep in revisions for my WIP. I thought I resolved some problems, 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 onemorning, 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?


David E. Hughes said...

The experience you describe happens to me all the time. I can rarely solve a plotting problem by sitting down and thinking about it. The answer either comes to me at an unexpected moment or when I'm sitting at the keyboard and wondering what will come out of my fingers.

Betsy Dornbusch said...

I think I do both. Sometimes it comes from direct thought and sometimes it's a "wake up" that happens at another time. And sometimes it happens during revisions, or talking it over with critique group...

So yeah. I have to try all those avenues.

Grey Freeman said...

I have this too! My subconscious either likes to hand me its report when I'm brushing my teeth or when I'm out jogging. That's why I make sure to go jogging as often as possible, just to help it along. However, it does also hand me solutions to creative things regarding my day job, which though nice isn't quite what I'm looking for.

Martin Willoughby said...

I love sleeping...on a problem. Sometimes I read something else, or watch TV, or do the washing up. Anything to take my mind off the problem.

The subconscious rules.

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