Scrawling will keep you in the game…


Woman Writing, August Macke, 1910

From The Chronicle of Higher Education:

The English Romantics believed that the unconscious mind was a creative mind. They brought the idea of the unconscious — Unbewusste — over from their German counterparts. Coleridge and Company believed that tapping that unconscious could produce wonders. Coleridge’s Unbewusste, along with a dose of opium, seems to have created his weirdly majestic poem “Kubla Khan,” although, for whatever reason, the Unbewusste declined to finish it. You don’t have to believe in a primally creative unconscious to buy the idea that making contact with the part of the mind that produces dreams (and occasionally unexpected jokes and tangy insults) can also help you produce good writing.

Bear in mind that there are dangers in trying to tunnel under Habitual Self, just as there are in jumping over it. Listen to too much chanting, or do too much on your own, and you may find yourself falling asleep and waking up feeling refreshed but guilty at the end of your allotted writing time.

There are subtler challenges, too. Get a little too deep into the twilight state and writing loses shape and direction. You may have lulled your Imps and burrowed your way through to the garden of your subconscious, but if the garden is weedy and wild, it’s not much of a victory. Don’t commit automatic writing — more illuminating to your therapist than to a reader. Stay at least two-thirds awake and alert. The simple act of typing or scrawling or cursively lettering (if you’re that much of an aesthete) will probably keep you in the game.

“The Insidious Imps of Writing”, Mark Edmundson, The Chronicle of Higher Education