By Robin Weaver
First, many thanks to the Bad Girlz for having me as a guest blogger. Today, I’m going to talk about letting your subconscious help with the creative process. “The girls in the attic” is an alias for your subconscious (Yes, I took some poetic license with the title—in honor of the Bad Girlz).
A writing instructor once insisted the “girls” could resolve any manuscript issue, whether it be a plot gap or a character development dilemma. Simply put: Got a problem? Sleep on it.
Why does this work? While you sleep, your subconscious chugs away, working on life’s issues. Our dreams are one portal to our subconscious.
But what if you could tap into this marvelous resource while awake?
I’ve recently done some research on the subconscious. Not for a new book, but to improve my writing. Most experts agree we use less than 10% of our brain. How much less is up for debate, but writing enthusiasts insist all writing, and thus all creativity, occurs just beneath our conscious.
So how can you take advantage of the other 90% of your mind? The answer is simple, yet amazingly complex. You must relinquish control to the subconscious. Sounds easy, but it’s oh so hard. Letting go takes both practice and discipline. One method to spur your “girls” is via free writing. Take a blank piece of paper and let the words flow. Those workshops that recommend completing your first draft without stopping to edit might be on to something. Get the story on the page. Don’t worry if it’s good, forget about grammar. You can always edit when your subconscious, a.k.a. your creative mind, needs a break.
Another method to spur your inner muse is via improvs. It’s no coincidence that many workshops and retreats begin with a list of words or items (a chalice, a piece of candy, a tube of lipstick) and then require you to write100-200 words. These items/lists are called improvs. Improvs work because they remove the pressure of “trying” to be creative. Improvs let you focus on the fun of writing and help suppress your conscious, critical mind.
Start by identifying three words. For instance, a monk, Paris Hilton and a stick of bologna. Okay, get a better list—you didn’t think I could remain serious for an entire article, did you?
Once you generate your word list, write 100 words. Don’t worry about quality, just write as fast as you can. If you feel inspired after you finish the exercise, return to your work in progress. If you are still creatively sluggish, select three words from the page you’ve just written and start again. Keep going and your imagination will blossom.
Many people believe improvs can alleviate writer’s block. What do you think?
Author of Blue Ridge Fear and Artifact of Death
Copyright © 2013 by Robin Weaver