1. BillyxRansom
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    BillyxRansom Active Member

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    Stream of consciousness?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by BillyxRansom, Nov 12, 2008.

    Is stream of consciousness a technique that is used to break someone of their own writer's block? I understand the concept of it, but I feel like someone could just let their mind go to wherever it wants to, and they would eventually just jot down a bunch of sentences, thus breaking the block. Is this a reason why this technique is used?

    The other thing I'm thinking about is, the consequence for trying to employ this technique while going through a writer's block might be that NOTHING makes sense at all, in any context. If this, the latter, is untrue, then I think I'm in good hands.

    I just basically am trying to understand this better. Is this an exercise to "cure" writer's block, or just a technique of writing that some authors specialize in?
     
  2. xanadu
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    xanadu Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've never thought of it as a cure for writer's block. That's actually a really interesting observation. I guess it really depends on the context. A lot of times it's okay to go off on crazy tangents as long as they can somehow tie into what you're trying to say overall. There's a fine line between not making sense because it's poorly written and not making sense because it's perfectly written. It isn't supposed to be easy to follow stream of consciousness, but when the reader finishes reading it he/she should have an understanding of the message. Whether or not he/she understands the literal situation is irrelevant.

    Anyway, I use it simply because it's fun as hell.
     
  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I don't think it's a cure for writer's block. If anything, it's the opposite. Writing in SoC is really hard, especially if you're trying to make sense and be literary. It's really just a technique that some authors are really good at.
     
  4. Dcoin
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    Dcoin Contributing Member

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    I always used it as a tool to get story ideas out and onto a piece of paper. Almost like a liquid brain storm.
     
  5. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    My understanding of the stream of consciousness approach to literature is based on my experience with research into the Surrealist movement. The early poetic branch of this movement honed their skills in this method, and it remains one of their most renowned feats of accomplishments. Particular poetic propents of the approach were André Breton and Robert Desnos.

    Desnos had an accute fascination and talent for the method, before he knew it had a name. He originally worked as a journalist and simply telephoned his pieces for print, without pause and without error, without having written the article before the call. He later became fascinatied with freedom and found an inexhaustible source of it in the subconscious.

    This led him to exploring stream of consciousness as a productive method of poetry generation. He would sit in a darkened room, alone, and enter what he called a trance like state, before letting his pen run over paper. He thought the freedom the subconscious allowed could be channelled in this manner, and its results would produce worthy poetic imagery. In most cases too, it worked. As an aside, it is worth noting that these trance like states were rarely if at all conducted or acheivable whilst under the influence of narcotics, specifically opium, or alcool. As one would assume, productivity lessened when under their heavy influence.

    As to whether you could use this device to beat writer's block, would very much depend on your command of your subconcious. If you can command it like the Surrealists claimed to be able, then you could circumnavigate the block. I like to point out here that I always find the central irony of a command of freedom to be rather appealing.

    If you just intend to write unresearched streams of nonsense, it's likely that when you attempt to work with the data, you may have trouble. In a wider sense however, if you attempt to use stream of consciousness for writing convincing speech, for example, you may have more luck. Spontaneous speech, as could be attainable through this method, could be very profitable indeed.

    If you interested in the Surrealists or the stream of consciousness in poetry, then it might interest you to look in the Essays theread under Non-Fiction on this site (page 2 I think) where an essay of mine relates to the subject. Kind regards.
     
  6. Forkfoot
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    Forkfoot Contributing Member Contributor

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    'Liquid Brain Storm' would be a great name for a jam band.
     
  7. BillyxRansom
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    BillyxRansom Active Member

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    Gannon - Thanks so much for your offering. Really helps.

    Forkfoot - You gonna start it? I would only find that fitting and appropriate.

    Thanks everyone else.
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Freewriting is sitting down for a set period of time, typically ten minutes, and writing continuously without pausing. Too often, it becomes, "I cannot think of anything I cannot think of anything my brain is stuck...." But its purpose is to try to break through Writer's Block. I don't think many writers actually find it toi be a successful strategy, because all it really ends up doing is stresssing you out worse than before.

    Stream of consciousness is a style of writing in which you still may deliberate over wording, but you try to follow the thought process of yourself as a writer and the characters you portray. In the purest form, you don't go back and edit, but I am not sure how honestly this takes place in practice. Jack Kerouac's On the Road is an example of this writing style, as is a lot of other prose and poetry of the Beat Generation.
     
  9. lipton_lover
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    lipton_lover Contributing Member

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    I was introduced to it by my creative writing teacher. We do it as a class, as an exercise. I don't use it for writers block, but when I have nothing to write about but want to write. So actually, it is a cure in a way. It's fun, you can end up with a bunch of great ideas, and as a bonus you're writing, which is nice :D

    It's also a way to learn more about yourself, and possibly a way to keep a diary. I love reading my old ones I've kept. If your brain happens to start thinking about yourself during one, you'll get the best account of whatever it is.
     
  10. Scarecrow28
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    Scarecrow28 Contributing Member

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    I don't really view it as a way to get rid of writers block, but it is pretty fun. Its also just interesting to see how you think and how the ideas "stream" out.
     
  11. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    As the others say it's usually just a form of writing, one which I don't really care for, myself...

    As was also mentioned, "freewriting" is usually the name of the method employed by people when they're stuck in writing--they give themselves a certain amount of time and write whatever comes to mind, no matter how senseless. Some people swear by this helping them get started, but for me, it wouldn't work at all. Some people honestly CAN'T just sit there and write whatever random junk comes to mind. I'd literally get stuck TRYING to freewrite. Some of us need more structure and purpose to get any writing done.

    Even if stream-of-consciousness isn't a typical way to break writer's block, what does it matter? Shouldn't you be willing to try whatever might work, no matter what name it goes by or whether others happen to use it or not?

    Just be aware that there's no "cure" for writer's block because writer's block isn't one single thing with one single cause. (I'm of the mind that there really is no such thing as writer's block, and it's just a euphemism for various other problems, like not really wanting to write or not wanting to find the time to write, but that's just me.) If one thing doesn't work, be willing to try whatever else there is, but don't expect a magical cureall because there is none. Sometimes all you can do is force yourself to do it.
     
  12. Little Miss Edi
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    Little Miss Edi Contributing Member

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    I use it to get me started and if I'm having a 'sticky writing' day, which is pretty much writers block laced with acid-like determination. (Then obviously go back and delete the bits that say "suck it up Edi and write something you...")

    It worked a treat for Uni, it works a treat now. Whether it'll work for other people, is dependant on the type of person they are.
     
  13. Dermit
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    SoC is a strange thing. I've learned a few things about myself while attempting the method, and not all of it good. For instance, the last time I sat down and tried it, I ended up writing a presidential inauguration speech, which I *probably* won't have the chance to use.

    As to how it applies to writer's block...well, I think it has much the same effect as any form of forced writing; it gets you putting words on paper. Thats really half the battle, if you think about it.
     
  14. Emerald
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    Emerald Contributing Member

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    Stream of consciousness is a lot more than just writing whatever comes to mind. It's all about the ability to link independent thoughts together and make it flow in a way that is both awe-inspiring and unencumbered.
    Try, say, going from talking about sausages sizzling on a frying pan, to the shortcomings of the socialist state, to the evolution of salamanders, without making it disjointed, in less than 500 words. It's hard.
     
  15. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, stream of consciousness is not the same as freewriting, as I mentioned earlier in th thread. Stream of Consciousness is an actual writing style that few if any have mastered without "cheating" (lots of planning and revision to create the illusion of freewritten thoughts). Kerouac and Ginsberg are the best known writers of this style, and it's highly questionable whether they followed the "rules".
     

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