Vision: A Resource f

 Lazette Gifford
Publisher & Editor


Letting Your Subconscious Do the Work

By Lenny Kraft
Lenny Kraft

I have found that writing a manuscript comes in two different flavors for me: writing from the mind and writing from the subconscious.

The former is what I've done for a long time, and it has a simple concept. I know what I want to accomplish with a scene, so I start building it brick by brick. I put down a sentence, then I start thinking about the next one. What does my character say next? Or does she move? How does she move? Or should I include some piece of sensory information? And if yes, what? I can usually keep that up for an hour, get 400 to 500 words done, and feel exhausted afterwards.

Then there is the other way, which I have found rather recently. Every day, I play the scenes I have planned for the next day in my head. Not just once, but three, four, five times or more. I watch the character in the same way that I watch a movie -- with the intention of being entertained, not of writing it down. Of course, every time I watch, they act a little differently, and to me that's a good thing. I don't try to cling to any particularly nice detail or turn of phrase. I just watch, and then let go.

And the next day, when I sit down to write the scene, I don't have to build it. It is already there. All I have to do is make my analytical mind step aside for a while and let my unconscious pour out what it has cooked up over the night. And it works. I don't have to worry about how my character would phrase a question, or how to show that she feels out of place. I just have to type what comes to my mind, and not think about it too much before getting it down. By writing that way, I can often do 500 words in half an hour and feel elated afterwards. And when I reread the scene later, I often think, 'Yes, that is exactly the way I wanted to write it.'

And sometimes a tiny miracle happens. A few weeks ago, I was coming close to the climax scene of my book. When I started imagining it in detail, I realised that it wasn't working the way I wanted and that it didn't have enough impact. I thought of several things I might do, but none of them was what I really wanted. So I told myself that there were other scenes I could work on until I had the climax figured out, and let it go. The next day when I sat down to write, I thought about the scene again and the solution was there. Just like that. And it gave the scene exactly what it needed.

How does it work? I don't really know. I think that by turning a scene over and over in my head, I am sort of telling my subconscious, 'Look, this is what's important to me right now. Please help me with it.' This seems to be especially effective in the evening before I fall asleep, maybe since that is the time that supposedly the mind and the subconscious are the closest to each other. I also think it's important to give the subconscious at least a night's time to work on whatever it's supposed to.

I know this approach isn't the cure-all for writing problems. It has done wonders for me for a while now, and I can only hope that it will continue to do so.

Can it help you? It might, if you give it a chance. For a few days, take your mental idle time (on the bus, at the check-out line, and especially in bed before you fall asleep) to go over the writing you have planned for the next day. Imagine different perspectives, different courses of action. Give your subconscious something to play with.

And then trust it to do the work.