By this I do not mean that my prose might be improved by a pistol-whipping (although some might think it). Rather, I'm referring to the dual roles of the conscious and unconscious in writing. I first encountered this idea in Dorothea Brande's delightful Becoming a writer (and, like all really good ideas, once I'd heard it I was sure it was my own).

Briefly, she suggests that it is useful to separate the conscious and unconscious, to allow them to give us their greatest benefit in the areas where they are strongest. So, the unconscious is the creative force, unfettered by conventions, allowing us to tap the area of the mind between sleep and waking, or when we daydream. Whereas the conscious organises, vets, patrols, adheres to rules. Of course we need both, without the unconscious we would never produce anything, or only something horribly stilted, and the conscious is required as critic and reviser, to reign us in. I don't take this idea of Brande's literally, but it is a useful metaphor for writing.

In my case the conscious is too dominant, I believe; the inner critic is too powerful and scorns the unconscious' work too readily. I often feel after my initial draft of something that I could easily revise it all away until nothing but a single phrase is left, or perhaps a sentence, rarely a whole paragraph.

I need to get past this and I'm sure I will.

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