Stream of Consciousness Writing

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#99 Why bother to journal?

Stream Of Consciousness writing isn’t about what you write. It’s about the very fact that you’re writing.

Nobody cares about the words on the pages. Nobody will read them anyway. Neither should you.

This is not a novel. This is not a love song. This is not a poem. This is but an externalization of your mind’s chatter. Ugly, pretty, insightful, bland. It doesn’t matter.

There’s no great work. Nor is there any bad work. No high standards, no judgment. Nothing but what flows out of your mind.

So if none of it matters… why bother to write Stream of Consciousness?

Because it forces you to slow down.

Because it forces you to pay attention to what’s on your mind.

Because it forces you to listen to the way you talk to yourself.

Because it helps you get all the overwhelming thoughts and worries out of your system.

Because it helps you gain clarity.

And because sometimes, insights emerge. Not necessarily in the words on the page. But due to the fact that you’re writing the words on the page.

Stream Of Consciousness journaling is writing. Venting. Self-therapy. Problem-solving. Meditation. Goal-setting. Creative liberation. And anything else you want it to be.

Because you have all of that in you already – if only you’d re-learn to listen.

And listening to yourself, it turns out, is much easier when you put it all on the page.

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#28 Write anyway – then write some more

Think you don’t have any good ideas to write about? Write anyway. Then write some more. The ideas might well reveal themselves on the page. (Morning Pages are good for this)

Have an idea but struggle to put it into words? Write anyway… Then write some more.

Struggling to edit your work and get it to a level where you believe it’s “publish-worthy”? Publish it anyway. especially when it’s imperfect. Once you see nothing bad happens when there’s a typo or an awkward sentence, your self-trust grows, your editing will become less judgmental, and your creativity will soar.

Scared of publishing your work, being judged, being seen? Publish anyway. Then publish some more. When you increase your publishing frequency, there’s less burden on that one post, video, book, piece of art.

You can only overcome the objections your mind invents by not letting them stop you from sculpting away, day by day.


#1 Sculpting Away, Day By Day

On Sunday, January 3 2021, motivated by an emotional low point and an article I read on writing “Morning Pages”, I grabbed an old notepad, pen, started writing and didn’t stop until I had filled three pages.

It was the first time in 5 years I wrote something by hand, and the first time in my life I journaled.

I liked it so much that I kept writing every day.

We’re 625 days later now, and I never stopped. 3 pages of Stream of Consciousness journaling a day, 625 days in a row: that’s 1875 pages or relaxing the mind and letting my train of thoughts “stream onto the page”, unfiltered, playfully wandering through my experiences, thoughts, and insights.

But no matter how enjoyable the wandering, lately I’ve been feeling the urge to create something tangible (and valuable) with all those insights and ideas.

Here’s how I envision it:

Daily journaling (Morning Pages) unblocks my stream of consciousness and transfers it to paper, forming the raw material out of which ideas and insights can emerge. In my experience, once I’ve gone through the sea of fluff, I can expect an insight (maybe two if I’m lucky).

Daily sculpting helps me remove all the fluff until only the pure insights are left, and then refine them, like a sculptor chiseling away at a massive block of marble, working to reveal the essence hidden inside of it.

sculpting away day by day
Sculpting until only the essence remains

“If you want me to give you a two-hour presentation, I am ready today. If you want only a five-minute speech, it will take me two weeks to prepare.”

– Mark Twain

Sculpting is the hard part. Because when you think about it, the raw material – the ideas and insights – have always been there, just like the famous Davide sculpture has always been hidden inside the block of marble Michelangelo hauled from a quarry in Carrara in the Apuan alps. He just paid attention in a different way and saw what many others didn’t see.

Yet, he wasn’t the only person who had the idea to use a block of marble to sculpt a Biblical figure. But the way he shaped that raw material into something impactful, beautiful, that accurately represents what you had in mind…

That made all the difference.

And it’s a skill that takes a long time to hone.

Which might be why I’ve avoided it for so long. So far, out of 1875 pages of journaling, I’ve published… 4 articles.

Time to change that. From today onwards, I’m adding a “sculpting session” to my day and will publish the result as a “Daily Insight”.

I don’t expect it to be particularly insightful anytime soon. Maybe I’ll never be fully satisfied with anything I come up with.

But when I stick to it every day and arrive at day 50, 100, or day 625…

Who knows how much I’ll have learned about writing, insight generation, communication,…?

Who knows what will have emerged?

Surely more than if I’d do nothing.

Which leads me to the question I’m asking myself today:

What would it feel like if I remove all external judgment from writing and see writing as the practice of exploring thoughts, ideas, feelings, insights, and becoming ever more accurate and impactful in representing them?

My current answer: I’d be focused much more on process and progress, not on competition. I’d feel how I’m getting better every day, not in relationship to others (as in competition), but in relationship to the purest expression of a certain art, skill, or action.

Sculpting away, day by day.

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