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The Subconscious: The Fount of Creativity?

November 9, 2012

The concept of the subconscious as the fount of creativity has fascinated me for several years now.  I was reminded of that when I read an article my friend Bobbi wrote on Frida Kahlo, which was published in the MN Jung Association magazine Elements.

Kahlo’s work is metaphorical jungle, rich with color and symbolism.  For me, its bizarre beauty is a treat for the eyes and heart.  The truth of her shines clearly through that work.  It’s like it came straight from her subconscious mind.  So interesting and so pure – at least to me.

Sometimes I feel as if creativity today is too filtered through our various forms of media.  Case in point, I read a short article on MTV’s impact on music.  In it, the author cited someone’s predicting that MTV would move us away from the soul of music – its passion, easy expression, warmth, and compassion — to a focus on the artist and his/her life instead.  The author pointed out that, indeed, MTV had moved away from music, to plasticizing the artist and their lives to create reality TV shows.  Food for the vegetating conscious mind perhaps, but, for me, it doesn’t represent pure creativity at its essence — that which comes fresh from the subconscious mind.  Why?  Because it’s too contrived.  Not intuitive. Too obvious.

My most recent experience with the subconscious happened just this morning.  Yesterday, I had a wildly creative day.  Five thousand and twenty seven words – all of chapter six of my second Race the Night novel – all in service of achieving the goal of fifty thousand words by November 30th.  However, the daylong effort left me at a crossroads in the book.  I went to bed with a bad case of eyestrain and an empty mind.  How was I going to stage the last half of the book?

A short night passed, the alarm going off after six hours.  After resetting it for a half hour later, I asked myself, half-asleep, “How does that next half need to play out?”  When I opened my eyes twenty-six minutes later, images flashed into mind:  pictures of ATVs rumbling through woods and meadows, a modern cabin in the woods, and a confrontation in my protagonist’s bedroom between her and the bad guy.

Wow. Lucky for me the images stayed with me all through the class I had to go to this morning.  When I got home, I pulled up my outline and got everything down.

A nagging question remained, “How would my heroine’s character need to act in this situation for it to seem real and true to her personality?”  During my Poetry Meetup tonight,  I was barraged by other people’s marvelous images.  I got the answer on the drive back home.

My subconscious seems to flourish in these two ways:

  1. Asking myself a challenging question and then sleeping or half-sleeping on it.  The images come after.
  2. Again asking the question and then overloading on others’ creativity.  The answer comes after.

What makes your creative neurons fire?

One Comment
  1. I get a lot of my ideas as I fall asleep or when I go do something physical. Glad your story is working out for you.

    Write on!

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