flashquake FLASH WRITING

Volume 7 Issue 1
Fall 2007
ISSN: 1546–3540

 

FICTION NONFICTION POETRY EDITOR'S PICKS GALLERY
Unconscious Doesn't Mean Knocked Out! by Michael L. Wilson

The mind is a mysterious wonder. Your brain stores every memory, sight, sound, dream, thought, action or experience that you have ever had. Unfortunately, the brain is not like a computer hard drive that stores all of the information completely in a well-organized, systematic fashion. It stores them in billions of neurons, and each neuron connects to thousands of others through an ever-shifting arrangement of synaptic connections. This creates millions of new connections each day between new sensory input and the old. As a result, the mind is constantly churning through fact, memory, sensation and thought.

What does this mean to you as a Flash Writer? It means that stories are already being written in your unconscious mind. The brain knows what it wants to say, it just needs knock your conscious mind out of the way to do it. Your conscious mind (sometimes known as your inner critic) often stalls you in the terrain that you know the best. It stubbornly refuses to move forward when trying to remember a specific word, or insisting that you get that detail about that traumatic childhood event just right. Writer's block often stems from working too hard to write the story that you think you should write.

One of the best ways to tap into your unconscious mind is to write about a topic drawn at random out of a collection of topics. It works even better if you can have a friend or two do the same thing and create a group topic pool for writing sessions. Specific, sensory-rich words and phrases work best. For example: Queen Anne's Lace, gingerbread, handlebar mustache, lightning strike, falling down. All of these words and phrases connect immediately to a memory, an opinion, a picture or a question. Start with whatever words that appear immediately and write.

Random topics help your brain relax and start free-associating with that topic. Your only job at this point is to capture the exact words that pour into your head. This gets easier with practice, and if you keep pushing your brain with these random topics, it will allow you to write about topics that are closer and closer to you. Your mind will eventually be disciplined enough to respond to the blank page every time you sit down to write no matter what the topic is.

Your brain will help you craft a story out of the depths of your mind. It might not make sense or be perfect on the first attempt, but I guarantee that there will be something that you can use in a future draft. So begin collecting interesting words and phrases and begin filling your topic pool, and tap into your unconscious mind.

P.S — If you have trouble coming up with writing topics on your own, consider purchasing a JumpStart Jar. With three different jars, the Basic Brainstorming, Brainstorming Boost #1, and the Fabulous Fiction Jar (which has specific characters, situations, and complications for your characters) the JumpStart Jar may give you that random spark you need. Check out http://www.jumpstartjar.com for more details.

Michael L. Wilson is the author of Flash Writing and the publisher of "Grist for the Muse," your free monthly e-newsletter to get you writing and keep you writing. To sign up, go to http://www.topica.com/lists/Grist_for_the_Muse.