• Chris OBrien

Stream of consciousness writing

Let's say you're about to pick up writing as a brand new hobby.


It's hard to get started because you feel like you have to begin with a project. If you were getting into woodworking, you'd start by making something. Same thing with cooking. Or going for a run. There's something tangible or some sort of finish line you're working toward.


So now you're thinking about the project. What should I write? What should I write? And you attach a goal to this like a blog post, a chapter, an essay. You get started. And then, if you're not able to come up with an idea, you feel discouraged. Or you write something, read it over, and become overly critical. Crumple up the sheet of paper. Close the laptop.


I'd like to propose a much easier starting point. Something called "Stream of consciousness" writing.


Sit down at the laptop and just start with a word. Easiest approach: pick an object in the room.


Lamp.


Then write the next thought that comes to mind.


I love lamp. (Anchorman reference)


Next thought.


Lamb (simply because it sounds like and kind of looks like the word lamp)


Keep going.


Lamb chops. Do you have the chops? Pork chops. Why are these all about food? Breakfast. Crack an egg. Scrambled. Over easy. Easy does it. Just do it. Nike. Running. Michael Jordan Nike shoes. How much do new basketball shoes cost these days? These days the world seems fine, walk all night, something in the backseat. Are those even close to the lyrics? What song is that?


If you make a typo, just keep going. It doesn't have to be corrected. You're not going to use any of this. And if you get stuck, find a new object in the room. Table. Chair. Coaster. And ride that next wave, see where it will take you.


What you're doing here is training your brain out of the overly critical/analytical mode. You're not sending an email. You're not working on something for a grade. You're just writing.


You'll look back at your paragraph - like I am now - and think what in the world was I talking about. And if anyone saw your stream of consciousness paragraph they might think it's crazy. But it's your warm-up. You're stretching the writer's brain. Tearing down any walls of writer's block.


I'd say maybe do this every day, or every other day, for a couple of weeks. I think you'll find yourself start to really look forward to your writing sessions. This exercise becomes an opportunity to experience the flow of writing. And Ideas will come. You'll start naturally working on projects. Blog posts. Essays. Chapters. But start with a little stream of consciousness writing and see where the flow takes you.


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