Stream of consciousness writing is a technique I use to open my mind and allow my thoughts spill out on the paper. With fiction writing it’s often used to explore a character or a scene without worrying about grammar or punctuation. It’s about getting into a state of flow with writing and diving into your subconscious mind.
This practice of free writing has been extremely beneficial for me in a few different aspects of my life.
I use stream of consciousness writing for working through a problem and I’vd it is the best way to be able to organize my thoughts quickly. If I’m stuck on how to organize a team or an intricacy in a design I’m working on. I sit at my computer, open up Evernote and write out the problem. Then I start to break down the problem and write as many details around it that I can, then break those down even further. I keep going until I feel I’ve covered the topic fully or have an epiphany. Sometimes it happens after a few minutes and at other times it takes significantly longer.
I’ll then take these thoughts, get rid of the unimportant parts and organize the rest. Sometimes in bullet points, sometimes in a full outline or others just a plan of attack to move on immediately. It depends on the complexity of the problem.
I also use stream of consciousness writing to analyze my own personal thoughts. I wrote about my practice of writing what I’m grateful for every day. For that practice I set a timer for five minutes and start by choosing an event that happened during the day and expounding on why it was a positive part of my life. Finding a unique event from the day helps make it part journal as well, rather than rehashing all of the standard things I’m grateful for, and by that I mean, my family, my home, my work, and my good fortune. It is more interesting for me to consider the fact that I met someone new that day and put my appreciation towards that event. Or, even more challenging is taking something bad and considering what, if anything, could be the positive part of that experience.
As far as the best way to approach stream of consciousness writing, some people say it’s better to put pen to paper rather than using a computer, but for me I can type a lot faster than I can write in my notebook and part of the process is getting my fingers moving without my brain guiding the words on the page. I’ve also read, be in a nice quiet place without distractions, but I’ve found some of my best episodes are at my local coffee shop listening to music. I say do whatever works for you, as long as you do it.