Subconscious Writing: The Power of the Mind

How many times have you been writing, and I mean really in the zone, only to read back through your work and find a sentence that you just don’t remember writing. You can’t even remember ever thinking it. It doesn’t fit the plot, not really, and just seems completely out-of-place.

You leave it in however, and carry on because editing comes later. Then suddenly, as the story follows that natural course of evolution that all plots go through, something happens. A new avenue opens up and suddenly, without ever really knowing it, that line from earlier suddenly makes sense. More than that, it ties things together. It acts as the perfect pre-cursor for what was to come.

This has happened to me several times over the years. I am prone to zoning out while I write. I just kind of get lost in my mind and before I know it I have written half a dozen pages, or more. Most recently I was writing something, and a line of dialogue slipped its way onto the page. It was nothing, but twenty thousand words later my plot took a turn which I had not planned, and all of a sudden this one line became a key moment in the book.

What I am getting it, I guess, is that maybe this is what makes writers writers. I am part of an email group where a rather heated argument is now raging because someone said that anybody can write a great book. I understand what they were trying to say, but their choice of words was worse than poor. I think it takes a certain person to be a writer. It goes to say that there is a difference between being a writer, and being someone who wrote a book.

Could it be that the mind of a writer works constantly, and I mean on a subconscious level. Drawing conclusions and creating intricate relationships between characters that don’t ever come to the surface. Unless we slip of into these zones whereby our mind takes complete control and the true intricacies of our work can be revealed.

Has anything like this ever happened to you?

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12 thoughts on “Subconscious Writing: The Power of the Mind

  1. Oh yes! My subconscious is way ahead of my ‘thinking’ brain when it comes to writing. It seems to see the story in a holistic way that is far more relevant than any outlining that I may do. That’s one reason why I can’t do a formal outline. I write copious notes so I don’t forget small flashes of insights but I refuse to outline because then it’s far harder to listen to what my subconscious is trying to tell me.

    And hooey on the idea that anyone can write. I’m with you, being a writer is far more than just having the capacity to put words together in sentences. We have to be able to get lost in the stories we are telling. And then we also have to have the drive and determination to come back out again and translate those holistic sensations into a linear narrative that somehow guides readers back to that ‘place’ where the story came from.

    I’ve always been a ‘wordsmith’ and spent about 10 years working as a tech writer but when I decided to try my hand at fiction I discovered that I had to unlearn most of what I thought I already knew about writing. That’s because writing /fiction/ is different. And hard. Writing good fiction is harder still. Knowing the difference is part of what makes a real writer write.

    1. I am glad that you also feel the same way Andrea. Also with regards the different type of writing. I think a lot of people, non-writers, don’t understand the different techniques that are required. The difference between writing short stories and novels alone is vast and takes time to learn, appreciate, and hopefully one day master.

      1. Oh god yes. Short stories are almost like the prose version of haiku – each word has to evoke so much because there is no room for waffle. I can’t do it but I can appreciate when someone else does it.

  2. Yes, I certainly know that ‘being in the zone’ feeling – it’s that place which keeps me writing – love it! I like all aspects of writing, including the research, editing and even proof reading but the absolute best is when you’re typing as fast as you possibly can and the words are just pouring onto the screen, the characters speaking for themselves, the plot sorting itself out. I’ll end up changing lots in the slower aftermath, of course, but the plot always stays largely the same.
    Great post, thanks!

    1. Thanks Jackie, I am glad you liked the post. Being in the zone certainly is a great feeling. I think that personally, it is those moments the really bring a book to life.

  3. I know the feeling of suddenly discovering the story and characters evolving are out of my control. Then, I have to go back to the “outline” and alter it to fit this pattern as the characters have taken over and I’m having to follow their lead. It’s very exciting and it becomes a race to keep up with the story (or poem).

    1. It certainly is very exciting. I had some of my character do a complete 180 on me and before I knew it the whole assigned of roles had been swapped around. My hero became m bit of a loser, and the the character I had planned to kill off became the star.

  4. I know that sometimes the characters have seemed to come alive and tell their own story, regardless of any outline I may have done. It’s very exciting and becomes a race to keep up with the action.

  5. Oh I have had a lot of subconscious writing recently. The best was while writing my Redcliffe sequel, and something appeared that took me totally by surprise. The event has become central to the plot now, and it was very exciting! My characters most certainly write themselves, and some are definitely getting more cocky the more attention I give them.

    1. I know what you mean with the one Catherine. I also had a couple of characters get a bit upset that they weren’t getting the attention they deserved. Their role kind of got shifted a bit and it put their nose out of joint.

      It’s funny. If I spoke about my characters as being real people at work, people would have me comitted haha.

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