Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Subconscious and the Writer's Thought Process

One of my followers on this Blog, Pat Petrovich, e-mailed me the other day after I mentioned to her that I had a dream and a new story came fully blown into my consciousness. She was amazed that it could happen that way. But it does, that's exactly how it happened.

I began to write her a long post and then realized that it probably should be on this Blog. So here it is.

Dreams, according to psychologists, are windows into the subconscious. They study dreams to find out what kinds of things we are thinking and feeling. Nearly every really good idea I've had for a story has begun with a dream. Those that have not started that way soon become involved in my dreaming life as I work out the details of the story.

Writer's will often express the fact that when they are into their story good, they will experience a feeling of "not writing" but "channelling" the story, as if it's coming from somewhere else. It flows down from the mind through the hands and onto the keyboard or paper. Sometimes they claim that they don't know where it came from. Other times they get the feeling that they didn't write it at all, but someone else using them as a conduit wrote through them. What they've done without realizing it is tapped into that Sub-conscious mind while they were awake and allowed their subconscious to write the story for a time. It's still coming from them, it just doesn't feel that way.

So it shouldn't surprise anyone that writing and dreaming are intimately connected. Again it's one of those things that takes practice. The more you practice accessing those dreams, recalling dreams and tapping into that so very creative source, the better you will get.

One of the tools I use is from Julia Cameron's book called "The Artist's Way." In that book she talks about doing "morning pages" where you write in a notebook, always long hand, and you must write at least three pages every morning immediately upon awakening. I usually try to do it within one hour of getting out of bed. And what you write is total uncensored nonsense. Doesn't matter what it is. For the first few years of my doing this I wrote mostly things like, "OK, here I am, I'm awake, I'm in the kitchen, sipping on coffee, man there are a lot of dirty dishes I had to move the big pot out of the way in order to make coffee this morning, holy hell, I get tired of doing dishes, oh well, that's my life, shutting drawers and doors behind people and picking up after them. Maybe I should go on strike. Anyway, NO BIGGY, so I'll just put it on the list of stuff to do today and while I'm at it, I also need to mail the bills and throw in some laundry and then I can . . ." from there it turned into a PODA list. (Parade Of Daily Activities.)

Now I have learned that the list stuff is always in my mind and I can skip over it to get to the good stuff. So Now when I start my morning pages I start with headers and I never ((((NEVER)))) use the words "No Biggy" in my morning pages any more. I hated using that phrase, if it really was not a biggy then why was it occupying so much space in my head?

Now I start usually with the heading "Dream:" Then go on to state, "Woke up thinking about:" And try very hard to capture those early morning ideas which have proven to be so valuable to me. I like waking up naturally because REM sleep is usually the strongest just before waking, but I have also had good results with being awakened abruptly by a noise in the house (not an alarm) and then been able to relax back into the dream state.

Now, I have very far fetched and unsupported ideas about how the subconscious mind in humans may or may not be related to the supernatural. Freud put forward the theory that there is an Id, or a higher self involved as well as the "lower self" of the subconscious. I admit that I have not studied psychology past the rudimentary levels, but I think that the Id as described in that field is more like the idea of the perfect self. Each of us have in our minds attributes that we assign to ourselves whether we live them or not. We have our perfect self inside our mind and we only just try to live up to it, or we get into a downward spiral and decide not to live up to it at all. That's the Id. That has nothing to do with that I'm talking about.

I see the subconscious as more of a go-between and buffer for alternative dimensions and states of consciousness.

Many years ago, a very wise woman suggested to me that when we dream we go to the place where our spirits go after our bodies die. In the state we call sleep, our spirits and minds are free to travel to those places and encounter people and other beings that dwell in those places. If you've ever startled yourself awake after a nightmare, this woman claimed, it was really your spirit getting scared and quickly slamming itself back inside your body.

Science has fairly evenly proven that there are other dimensions that co-exist possibly side by side with our own. I believe that the higher power, that being that I like to call God, has mastery over traversing all the various dimensions, coming and going as SHE pleases. We as humans are only made in HIS image. We are not gods, we only have a small portion of the substance that is God in us, and that is our soul. Each of us that has a soul is part of God and SHE us. God is the Macrocosm, we the Microcosm. As such we have lesser abilities to maneuver but we still can. We must live for a time in this physical world and as such must do what we can to perform in it, learn all we can learn about survival and love and taking care of each other and sharing what we have with others, both in physical goods and in knowledge and skills. But ultimately we will all travel to other dimensions, other levels of being where we undoubtedly keep learning and growing.

But while we are forced to exist in this physical plane of existence we have the appearance of being cut off from the rest of existence, the world, other people, and God. Some of us learn that this is not true at all, but those who don't begin to feel utterly alone. Nothing could ever be further from the truth.

This is one of the life lessons that we are put on the physical plane to experience, and the subconscious mind is the buffer zone between our waking physical state and the truth of the fact that we also can exist in other dimensions. Our subconscious minds are there to connect us to these other dimensions which are our natural state of being, as well as to protect us from the idea that they are real. Only the most enlightened people among us know that they are there and that we are tapped into it. The rest of us need to live in the real world and not be distracted by this idea. It's easy to do, all you have to do is pretend that what you experience in dreams comes from your own wild imagination and weird unbounded feelings, hopes, and desires. Then you can dismiss them as just being fantasies, thus buffering you from truth.

Undoubtedly some of what you dream is fantasy because that's how the mind works. You can dream about having sex with your boss, but next time you encounter him you will say to yourself, that was just a dream, and go on and interact with him as if it never occurred, which it didn't. That's fine and has nothing to do with what I'm talking about.

And that's why the subconscious mind is the way it is, so that we can put plausible deniability on whatever we wish to plausibly deny.

I didn't just sleep with my boss.
I didn't just see my dead father on the street and talked with him.
I didn't just travel to another dimension where I interacted with elves and dwarfs and they gave me a good idea for a story.

Or did I? It all gets mixed up in the subconscious mind, the truth with the fictions with the facts, and gets mushed around in there until we don't know what to believe, or can choose what to believe and what not to believe.

By the way, these are some of the ideas that I have permeating my latest novel, "A Haunting at Mackinac." The main character, Alina, is a psychic trying to control her skills at the same time fighting evil on an Island which seems to have the ability to telescope psychic powers. It's available for the Kindle on the Amazon website.

If you are wondering how I came to my conclusions here is a shortened version of that story:

My father died when I was 17 years old and I remember laying in bed the night after he died and wondering where he was. Somehow, the Christian view of heaven was leaving me cold. So I began to search. That night I started a spiritual search that ended years later with the writing of this novel. During this search I studied all the major religious beliefs of the world as well as spiritualism, paganism, Native American philosophy and the occult. What I came to believe is not in any one given religion, but a truth made up of a deep belief that I am a spirit and a part of God. I liken myself to a hand that is trying to learn a new skill, possibly knitting. The hand has to learn how to hold the needle and the yarn and manipulate it in a certain way to gain a certain result. I am God's hand, learning to do something that God wants to learn to do, and wants me to learn how to do. The way I see it, that's what we all are. It's like the hippies used to say, we are all connected because we all have that spark that comes from God, the spark that gives us life in this physical world but cannot exist apart from the supreme creator from whence it came. Therefore, what does it matter if we are Catholic or Jewish, Buddhist or Hindu, Muslim or Christian. We fight wars over these separations when we should be acknowledging the fact that we have all arrived at the same place from different roads. Gandhi said, "I am a Hindu and a Muslim, and a Christian and a Jew, and so are all of you."

I could go on all day, in fact, I have spent the entire morning writing this. So it's time for me to get some work done since this doesn't count toward my Nanowrimo word count!

For those of you who have read through this entire tome, thank you! We'll talk again.

Cindy K-K

1 comment:

  1. Ah, this tome. I did, indeed, read it in it's entirety.... and enjoyed every word! Fun, fun, fun!
    Love it all!

    And now I too must get back to painting snowmen on vintage sleds for the upcoming craft shows... I swear this is the last of snowmen on sleds for me! I say that every year and then I find another neat old sled....