1. chaos scribbler
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    chaos scribbler New Member

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    stream of consciousness

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by chaos scribbler, Nov 5, 2013.

    When I did a writing course last year one of the most interesting exercises was stream of consciousness writing which i'm sure most of you know about. There is something soothing about this kind of writing and many good ideas can come of it. It just feels great to splatter a page or two with the ramblings or worries or thoughts in your head. Do many of you do this kind of writing?
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    As a literary technique, SOC is more than just ramblings on a page. It's a very powerful tool that takes into account a character's thoughts, emotions, perceptions, etc. and weaves them into the narrative. Virginia Woolf and James Joyce made used of SOC quite a bit. Faulkner's Sound and the Fury is a famous example of SOC. I recommend taking a look at some of these books for examples of great SOC writing.
     
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  3. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Yes! And it's especially helpful when I'm having a hard time starting a scene in my story. The great thing about it is you don't have to
    be worried about punctuation, organization, sentence structure or all the points you have to hit - you just let one idea stream into
    another and pretty soon you have a lot of gems to actually construct a beautiful scene. Things that if you tried to think of never would've
    came into focus.
    It's a great loosen-up technique when you're fearful of beginnings or going through a creative dry spell. And great for constructing a poem.

    Thirdwind - gave some great examples of writers who actually used this technique in their writing, to this I'd add Will Self's Umbrella.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I think you mean Freewriting, which is somewhat different from stream of consciousness.

    Freewriting is a writing exercise, promoted by Peter Elbow et al, as a means of letting go of inhibitions and to turn off the inner critic.

    Stream of consciousness is a writing style promoted during the Beat Era by writers like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, supposedly never edited after the initial draft. I'm not convinced they actually lived up to that ideal, though. But they attempted to at least give that impression in their writing.

    I took a writing class taught by Mr. Elbow in college, many years ago. Part of the problem was the total lack of leadership in the class, so I can't honestly blame it on the freewriting, but it was quite possibly the most useless class I ha e ever attended.
     
  5. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sorry man, but you are dead wrong on both. Freewriting is a form practiced in psychoanalysis since its beginings, and was given the "literary citizenship" since Dada. Consequently, it was used as a primary writing gimmick by many first and second generation Surrealists. I don't doubt that it's a lousy exercise in group therapy, but personally I found it somewhat usefull, to get back in the right state of mind (or out of it) :)

    Stream of consciousness is way older than the Beats, and it's actually a literary technique. Wouldn't go much further than Joyce (you can hate him and vomit at the sound of his name as much as you like, but he's still there, in bronze, in Pula) :)
     
  6. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sorry man, but you are dead wrong on both. Freewriting is a form practiced in psychoanalysis since its beginings, and was given the "literary citizenship" since Dada. Consequently, it was used as a primary writing gimmick by many first and second generation Surrealists. I don't doubt that it's a lousy exercise in group therapy, but personally I found it somewhat useful to get back in the right state of mind (or out of it) :)

    Stream of consciousness is way older than the Beats, and it's actually a literary technique as oposed to freewriting being an exercise - but comes from the same psychoanalytic background. Wouldn't go much further than Joyce (you can hate him and vomit at the sound of his name as much as you like, but he's still there, in bronze, in Pula) :)
     
  7. Aurin
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    Aurin Member

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    I'm working on a novel which the originally draft is SOC. It was a way of pouring out emotions recovering from depression, but using it to structure the plot and characters' thoughts, emotions and so forth, so using it constructively. I think in that regard it's quite different to just free writing for it gives something to focus on.
    Hard part with SOC (and free writing for that matter) is then editing it to make it a readable novel, because what's going on within SOC dictates where the plot is going, or that happens in my experience.
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Freewriting as it applies to the craft of writing: http://mgunby.wikispaces.com/file/view/Freewriting.pdf

    As for stream of consciousness as a writing technique, I agree that the Beat Generation didn't come up with it first. Its origins are associated with the Modernist movement of the early twentieth century (e.g. Virginia Woolf), but Ginsberg, Kerouac, et al embraced it thoroughly and popularized it with the Beat Generation.

    The roots of both in psychology is of historical interest, but I'm talking about their use by writers (remember the name of the site?)

    ^^This is being just plain contentious.
     
  9. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I like Woolf and Joyce both, though I found Finnegan's Wake largely impenetrable. If you're going to use this approach for a full story, rather than just an exercise, I expect it would be a hard sell to publishers these days (for an unknown author at least), but you never know.
     
  10. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Join the club. A part of me still thinks he wrote it as a practical joke.
     
  11. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I always though it would be nice if someone would translate it into English. Have you read Dubliners? That's a great collection.
     
  12. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I've read everything of his except for Finnegan's Wake, his poems, and his one play. Speaking of Dubliners, "The Dead" is easily in my top 5 greatest stories ever written.
     
  13. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, I liked "The Dead" a lot. For a more contemporary short story writer, I think I've mentioned I find William Trevor to be quite good as well. Great stuff.
     
  14. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Don't see any reasons to hate Joyce. Some of his experimental works, such as Finnegan's Wake, are difficult but some of his stuff is accessible and widely considered amongst the finest in the English Language (Dubliners, for instance -- Evaline has been described as the best short-story ever written in English, for example. A simple story that anybody can enjoy, but that repays ever deeper and deeper analysis.
     
  15. digitig
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    I do freewriting as an exercise sometimes. I've also written stream of consciousness as an exercise, although only as an exercise: I've never written any real work where it has seemed appropriate. I have read stuff where stream of consciousness (or writing pretty close to it) has been exactly the right thing, absolutely spot on, for relatively short passages.
     
  16. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    Elbow describes auto-writing there, the psychoanalytic technique still used in psychology, so it's not only a historical interest that connects it with writing. The impact of psychoanalysis on 20th c. literature is ...well, not easily measured, but it is great :)

    Sorry, I just never cared for Kerouac as much as I did for Virginia so I just mentioned the routes. It is true that American writers were always a few decades slow compared to Europeans :) ...Now, THAT is contentious :D

    Logging out now ;)
     

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