Writing and Your Subconscious Mind

My body doesn’t want me to write. Every day, it’s a mind/body war. Whether I’m ghostwriting a memoir or fiction, it doesn’t matter. I get started on a page, and as soon as I get stuck, I start to fall asleep. It feels like I’ve been roofied. It’s absolute sleepiness that can’t be argued with.

So, I take a nap. Usually, during this nap, I dream of solutions to the literary problem I’m facing. I wake up, eager to implement the incredible solutions I’ve just dreamed up, groggily get in front of my computer again, and then I recall my dream solutions. Invariably, they’re the stupidest ideas on Earth. But at least my temporary belief in my dream-genius got me off the couch and back in front of the computer. I begin to write again, and somehow the writing process is now easier and more fluid.

Meditation and “Revelations”

I once had a ghostwriting client who was really into lengthy meditation. He used to call me sometimes after his mediations and tell me the amazing revelations he had, which were often about the book we were working on. Nothing against meditation. I do it myself. However, this is simply what I observed: the longer the meditation, the stupider the ideas he came up with.

I’m not saying they weren’t creative ideas. Just that they really made no logical sense and would have required completely rewriting a perfectly good plot and starting the book over from scratch. In our conversation, I would agree to think about it, give him a few days to cool down, then call again to discuss the idea with him, at which point he had usually realized on his own that the ideas were ass-backwards.

What’s Lurking at the Bottom?

The subconscious is a funny thing. It seems like going into it–whether through sleep or meditation or whatever way you do it–is almost like cleaning out pipes. All kinds of junk emerges: deposits, barnacles, resin, crud. It all seems brilliant when it’s getting cleaned out, but when you look at it later, it’s just crud. However, now that all those throw-away ideas have been processed, the pipes are cleaner, and the water of creativity flows through it more readily. . . Then again, maybe I just like my naps.

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