Unleashing the Mind’s Potential with Stream of Consciousness Writing

I’m one known to think too much about matters I shouldn’t burden myself with. I tend to have a lot on my mind and it becomes overwhelming!

What my boyfriend suggested to me was some stream of conscious writing. I was confused. I did this type of writing every morning for my Creative Writing class in high school and it never really helped me. But in class I realized we had a time limit and were sometimes told what to write about. So what happens when we don’t have these limits?In today’s post, I’ll be touching on:

  • What stream of consciousness writing is and how to do it!

What is it? And what is it good for?

Stream of conscious writing is a technique circled around release. Sure our mind has the capacity to think about and carry all of our problems, feelings, and thoughts, but when there comes to be too many facts and stored information, our minds are clouded and we tend to lose our ability to quickly reason through our problems.

Who is it for?

  • those who are stressed on a day-to-day basis
  • those who seem to have one problem after the other
  • those who have too much on their mind and unsolved problems
  • those who are looking for inspiration or that creative spark
  • those with writer’s block or those who are looking for some new ideas
  • those who want to improve their memory, vocabulary, and reasoning

How to stream write

What you’ll need:

  • a computer or
  • pen and paper or
  • a typewriter
  • basically something to write with – preferably one you’re fastest with!

Here’s the key: don’t limit yourself at all. The only way your mind can uncover ideas, repressed thoughts, and thousands of other possibilities is if you just let your writing flow freely. Don’t worry about typos, leave them there unless it’s absolutely vital to the meaning of your writing.

Let go of any inhibitions and write. No matter how profound, no matter how sad, no matter how taboo, no matter how repressed and deep into your mind it is, no matter how shallow, seemingly pointless, unimportant, trivial, no matter anything.

Write. Write. Write. CAPITALIZE. don’t capitalize. who cares about punctuation. Show your thoughts.

Give yourself about an hour. After writing for a bit, you’ll feel refreshed and unburdened. As if the accumulated thoughts you’ve been sweeping aside for months have been lifted from your shoulders and tucked away into one place.

Now save your document or hide away your journal. If you want it to be private, save it as an email draft or rename it to something no one will suspect.

When you’re ready to write more, open up the same document and continue from where you left off. Just make sure it’s all in one place. It’s easier to go back to and reference. You’ll be surprised at the phases you go through and twists and turns you take to get to where you ended. Don’t be shocked when you realize that your stream writing is a vault of new ideas for projects and other things.

My Experience

I took my boyfriend’s advice and did a little writing of my own. Surprisingly, I found I went through a few phases.

I began by writing about what happened earlier in the day, typical journal stuff. Then it moved to a critique of a movie I had seen earlier and some thoughts on how society may have viewed that movie. (By now, I had already come up with a few ideas for future blog posts!) Then I wrote about stream of conscious writing itself, and how, after a while, my hands just flowed freely, my thoughts translated from my brain through my arm to the keys of my keyboard so fluently and uninterrupted.

Every thought somehow connected to the other like a puzzle. One thing lured my mind to the next, and soon I delved into deeper topics about my feelings towards a few friends who have caused me much repressed mental strain. I came to clear, crisp conclusions about what I should do and how I should react when certain situations arise with these friends.

These are conclusions that, unfortunately, my boyfriend has been telling me about for months! For some reason, though, I had to come to these conclusions myself, and stream of conscious writing allowed me to do that with ease (and unknowingly until afterward!).

Try it out and tell me how it goes in the comments!

photo credit: CreativeArtistry | ntxpeach68 | darkmatte
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18 responses to “Unleashing the Mind’s Potential with Stream of Consciousness Writing

  1. Hi Brittany. I just came across your blog via your comment in my thread at the 31DBBB forum. You have a great blog and I just subscribed.

    I really liked this particular article. One of the reasons I started a blog was an outlet for stress relief and other therapeutic benefits. I think the stream of conscious writing that you are referring to takes that a step further. I think a lot of people can benefit from it, including myself.

    Keep up the great work on your blog! I look forward to reading more great articles.

    -Erin

  2. Great idea Brittany!

    I did this in creative writing classes too, but it didn’t really work for me either for the same reason – time restraint.

    Also, I don’t think doing it in a class was conducive my being able to ‘let go’. Personally I need privacy and peace and quiet to calm my mind and let things begin to flow.

    I love what you say about ignoring typos and not caring about punctuation. This is going to be very helpful when I try it. I double-checked the spelling of conducive – I’d got it right, but had to be sure before I hit submit!

    Whenever I’m writing – whether it be a blog post, poem or one of the numerous books I’ve started I get so hung up on this. I want every line to be perfect.

    And an idea for a blog post has just popped into my head. It’s something I learned when I was doing a counselling course. I’ll post it on Wednesday!

    See, your idea is working already and I haven’t even started my Stream of Conscious Writing yet – or maybe I have…

    Cheers, Teresa

  3. Woot!

    This is awesome. What a great idea for getting the ol’ creative muse going into high gear.

    I used to own a writing prompts book (darned if I can find the thing) called Fast Fiction. It contained prompts and the idea was to turn the page, start a timer and just write as much as you could in the allotted time. No thinking, no crafting, just write. They were a lot of fun and I think this will be fun, too. I’m going to give it a whirl this week.

    Cheers

    George

  4. Stream writing is awesome. Sometimes it’s hard for me because I like to have a plan and a goal, but I really do feel like it’s a great way to get ideas flowing and to come across new and exciting insights. I haven’t done it in awhile, but this is a great reminder to give it another go. Thanks!

    http://positivelypresent.typepad.com

  5. The Vegetating Vegan

    Stream of consciousness is fun–fun to read and fun to write. I just recently checked out the book Naked Lunch because it uses stream in the narrative.

    Another fun thing which kinda goes along with stream of consciousness is the use of alternate punctuation. You know–the interrobang, irony mark, Herve Bazin’s punctuation (like the love point), or those you invent yourself. Tom Wolfe used alternate punctuation in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. (I love that book!)

  6. I have to agree – blogging or writing whatever’s in me at the time has had a profound effect on me. It’s helped me put things in the right place and also improved my memory too!

    I remember a strange night in February.

    I’m very lucky in that I never struggle to sleep, but this night I was struggling! I had about 5 world changing ideas (tongue firmly in cheek), whizzing around in the noodle. At 01.15 I decided enough was enough, I got up and wrote the ideas on paper and went back to bed and fell asleep in no time.
    Many people struggle to sleep because their minds won’t let them, If I was a doctor I’d prescribe a notepad and pencil for these such cases.

    Nice Post B.

    Respect and Peace!
    @dam.

    • Definitely! It’s like your own personal therapist.

      Oh, I am definitely one of those sleep struggling people. My body often sleeps while my mind is still chattering away. I’ve spent MANY a terrible night hoping and wishing my mind would just hush and go to sleep. One night, I did exactly as you did, scrawling every single thought down… slept like a baby! It’s nice having thoughts all in one place. Seems less hectic.

      Thanks again! (I grabbed your blog’s feed by the way. Anything good I can read to pass the time at work is highly appreciated.)
      -B

  7. Great ideas coming out of here! What places do you feel most comfortable writing? It seems that, depending upon where you are, you might be more prone to challenge your brain more. If you are in a room that is not very distracting, you have to dig deep in your brain more, but in a park your mind has distractions to build off of. What are your thoughts?

    -Stefan Peierls

  8. By the way, what is the best conclusion you have come up with?

  9. Pingback: Examining Poetry: Part 3 « Fantastical Reality

  10. Would it be better to be listening to music or not? I’m listening to Mozart right now (trying to stimulate my brain) & then came across this technique. Probably can’t hurt too much to do two brain stimulating exercises at the same time? haha I’ll try with and without and let you know (if I remember to come back here)

    thanks,
    -bliss

  11. Thanks, I have found this post after I did som eon my own, and I find them colorful writes, compared to tape measure writing, and of free verse ranting in organized fashions. And it’s rewarding, it shows all you use of tools, depending on the investment and collection. If it improves memory all the better, because as you know time is precious, but also dangerous.
    Thanks for posting, much appreciated… WS.

    My titles of work are AUX, and Freaky with Frank…

  12. Hi, thanks for your post, I know it’s an old one but I was researching this writing technique last night and stumbled on your blog. Just wanted to let you know I have put a link in my latest blog post (about overcoming creative block) to your blog as I feel my readers will find it useful!
    http://www.dearestjackdaw.com/2011/10/overcoming-dreaded-creative-block.html

  13. Pingback: Stream of Consciousness | The Dulcimer

  14. HI Brittany!!!!!!

    Really enjoyed this article,helpedme get over several demanding break ups!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Ieuan Jannson

  15. I’m starting to think that what is written down is irrelevant and it is the process of writing that is important. There are many examples of solutions to problems coming when people are carrying out simple and repetitive tasks and writing fulfills this function. I would argue that giving the writing a purpose: finding new ideas, helping with writer’s block,solving a problem will kill creativity dead.

    Guy Claxton, in his book: ‘Hare Brain: Tortoise Mind,’ argues that to benefit from what he calls the under-mind no effort, focus or concentration can be used and no end goal can be aimed for.

    Declan Donellan, in his book: ‘The Actor and The Target,’ explains that ‘We’ create nothing. The energy of creativity comes from outside and we block this by focusing, concentrating and attempting to control.

    When I free write, my mind will latch on to a purpose for the writing. It may be an idea to write positive statements or use it as a form of creative visualisation. Sometimes, I will think about using it to write about a task I am procrastinating about.

    When these thoughts occur, I get a good feeling. Enthusiasm wells up in me. I believe this is the conscious mind regaining control. It doesn’t like the idea that it has no control and fears its loss. It will do anything to regain it.

    Unfortunatly this feeling of control leads us back to a mind that will solve nothing, will create nothing and will return us to tired and tried solutions.

  16. Much thanks! This is definitely an good internet site. http://bit.ly/2f0xJ92

  17. Pingback: 7 Ways To Express Your Feelings If You're An Introvert

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