Have you ever just taken out a notebook, journal or even a piece of paper and just started writing? No direction in mind, no plan, you just started writing the first things to pop into your head. Did you know this specific kind of writing is called stream of consciousness writing?
Basically when you’re writing like this, you’re taking all thoughts and emotions and throwing them straight from your heart & mind onto paper; no filtering, no editing, just raw and unfiltered you.
Stream of consciousness writing is an exercise that involves you getting a notebook, picking up a pen and just writing. You ignore punctuation, style, grammar, format… anything that stops you from writing.Verified Life Coach
Generally when I journal, I tend to edit my thoughts. I don’t edit them drastically, but I do make sure to do a little polishing to make sure things sound logical. It sounds silly especially since I’m the only one who will be looking at my words, but nevertheless, I take my time to make sure my personal words sound nice and like I have some sense. With stream of consciousness writing, it’s intentionally supposed to be the exact opposite. You’re supposed to write things as they come to your mind. You may be thinking that that sounds easy enough, and well I thought the same until I tried it out myself. At this point I’ve been doing it for two weeks and it’s still a little bit of a challenge for me.
Here’s what’s challenging about it
Not editing myself before it hits paper — this means I have to look at me. Not the self realized version of myself affirming my self realization and awareness through thinking and journaling as two separate entities. No, not that self; but the confused, self conscious, insecure version of myself that at this point where I’m still getting used to this, spends more time writing about how I don’t know what I’m supposed to be writing about than anything else.
Rereading – this part isn’t so much difficult as it is intimidating. It’s intimidating because I didn’t solve my issues before writing about them. Normally when I journal it leads me through thought processes and I can usually use the writing as a guide to navigate issues. Through this kind of writing I’m not thinking separately. I’m thinking as I write. The solving or identifying of tones voice or attitude comes afterwards.
Distractions – because this is supposed to be a flow of thought, distractions are more dire. There’s no plan, so if I lose my train of thought it’s really gone. I need to start over completely. What I’ve found helps to reduce the chances of that happening is to set up the environment. I put my phone on Do Not Disturb, I play specific music that helps me to focus and play it loud enough so that I will not be distracted by my neighbors in the hall or upstairs and I write in a journal specifically so that I will not be tempted to distract myself by notifications that may pop up on my computer.
As much as those are challenges, I do believe I’ll eventually get used to them and they’ll become less of an issue as time goes on. It’s new to me at this time though so of course I’ve got some nuances of discomfort. There are some benefits that I’ve discovered in this short period of time as well. I’ll list those below.
Benefits of Stream of Consciousness Writing
Self Understanding – this is you. The real version of you— unfiltered, unedited, raw and exactly as you are in this moment. Whether you’re rambling about your day, ranting about an incident or complaining, this is you. Writing like this provides you with an opportunity to better understand your thoughts and feelings. Maybe you’ll end up writing about something that happened earlier in the day that you didn’t think really bothered you but it did. Now you get to ask yourself why instead of allowing it to be a subconscious trigger.
Verbalize Better – through writing and later having to analyze what you’ve written, you’re going find yourself better able to verbalize your thoughts and feelings to other people. This will help you to become a better communicator especially when talking about your self and your emotions.
Sense of Calm – Each time I dive into this, I come out of it feeling a deep sense of calm. It’s almost as if my body sees this as purging, which it basically is. It takes a bit out of me emotionally, but it returns a lot as well.
Whether you are an avid journal-er, a beginner, or someone who just stumbled upon this blog post, I encourage you to give this a try.
Have a safe and happy week my friends!
xx Nicole Eva
Uggggh…..It’s sooo hard for me to do this! I remember a former college professor of mine made my class do a group activity that explored the stream of consciousness. We each wrote a random line for poem and passed it on to the next student. When it was my turn to write something, my mind just froze. I eventually was able to write something at the urging of impatient classmates. Man, I hated that exercise! I don’t produce the best ideas (in my opinion) when I have to come up with something right off the top of my head. A lot of rappers are experts when it comes to this, which is a pretty cool skill to have. Since I lack that skill, I won’t be dropping rhymes in the near future. 😆
While writers (and even students preparing to write essays) are taught to get down rough thoughts uninterrupted….I gotta admit….the “editor voice” in my head has a problem shutting up. Mostly because I’m very particular about the way I present my thoughts on paper.
Glad to know I’m not the only one that edits my thoughts when writing in a journal. I haven’t written in a journal in a looong time, but when I did, I always found myself saying “Hmmm….you know what? Let me change that sentence.” But I didn’t do it nearly as often as when I wrote something that would be read by someone. I think this is something I’ll struggle with because I’m an overall picky person. 💁♀️
You shared some good tips Nicole. Thanks for sharing!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Haha, I laughed out loud when you said you won’t be dropping rhymes in the near future! Me either girl, me either!
It’s pretty difficult to let go of that “presentationist” (pretty sure I made that up) trait within us. It’s not a bad thing at all, but for me, it definitely gets in the way sometimes when I’m trying to express myself to another (or to myself) so this, so far, has been really helpful with that! Thanks so much for reading, I always enjoy reading your comments!
Oh man, that verbalize better piece couldn’t be more true!!!
I absolutely loved this post and am feeling super inspired to do more stream of consciousness writing.
I had gotten away from it after graduating college. Thanks so much for the reminder and the list of benefits!!!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Hey, thanks so much! I really have been enjoying it too. It’s been helping me in all of my relationships, including with me and myself. Just being able to process things in an unfiltered way…it’s so helpful! Give it a try and let me know how it goes!
I’ve always been a stream of consciousness writer, my favorite time to write are on those days off wandering around SF hanging out at coffee shops. Gosh I miss those pre-covid days! Being a fly on the wall gave me the best inspo. For journaling, I prefer to do this type of writing in the morning. It’s the best way to get my head straight and priorities right! Great post, layout and graphics too. 🙂 Website looking nice!
Wow, interesting, I did not know there was a name for this. I do like writing all my thoughts down on paper or if I am not near paper, I write my notes on my phone or sometimes I record them so as not to forget.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Yes, there is! I like learning to be free with my raw thoughts, which brings up some interesting mind conversations with myself. It’s a pretty great way to really get to know yourself.