Stream of consciousness writing is a nonlinear process that acts as the writer’s inner monologue with a little more detail. While it is the inner monologue, it is quite literally copying the way the brain works with observations and repetition. But you withhold your focus on grammar and punctuation.
Essentially, you ignore every rule you’ve ever known about how to write “correctly”.
When writers use stream of consciousness writing, it is typically to evoke emotional truth to show a sneak peek into the brain of the character they are writing about, or themselves if it is a personal blog. It can also be used as a brainstorming exercise to get into the mindset you want your writing to flow from.
What Is the Structure?
At first glance, stream of consciousness writing can seem very sporadic and chaotic. In a way, it is a bit chaotic. No true structure exists to it other than putting pen to paper about the brain’s inner workings. Because there is no right or wrong way to structure a stream of consciousness flow of writing, there is no way to predict it in an effort to make it feel less chaotic. Remember to emote in your writing. This keeps the writing less chaotic and more focused.
In order to take control of your thoughts and emotions, write in a way that flows naturally using inner monologue.
How Do You Get in the Zone to Write?
Traditionally, it is an exercise done with pen and paper, and maybe some noise-canceling headphones to truly get into the zone of writing down all your thoughts. With technology having everything you need at your fingertips, stream of consciousness writing can easily be done on your favorite note-taking application or in your Google Docs account.
Some writers use it as a form of release for their emotions in an effort to sort through them without the pressure of an editorial hand. It is a very popular journaling strategy to release any pent-up emotions that are having a hard time coming out otherwise. It can be used as a bereavement journaling strategy or any happy emotions that you have been having a hard time matching up words to express.
Here’s an Example:
“Walking into work/ I hope I unplugged my straightener I think I did/ My dog was crazy this morning/ I hope he’s good for the dog walker later/ Hey Toby/ Got to grab my coffee I hope it isn’t cold/ Good morning Kayla/ Don’t spill don’t spill don’t spill/ Made it/ Time to get started/”
A more linear version of this stream of consciousness may read something like this:
“I was walking into work and saw Toby. I was not sure if I unplugged my iron. But I am pretty sure that I did. I saw Kayla and grabbed my morning coffee before getting started for the day. “
Virginia Woolf was well-known for using the stream of consciousness narrative in her writing, specifically in Mrs. Dalloway. Another big name that used the tactic is William Faulkner. Clearly, it isn’t only useful for blogging, but in any sector of the writing world.
Is It Effective?
Stream of consciousness writing is as effective as you allow it to be as a writer. It is up to you to use it as a tool for understanding your own mind better. The key to stream of consciousness writing is to allow your words to flow freely. Plus, ignore the burning need to edit. Whether you are an edit-as-you-go writer or a write-then-edit writer, it’s important to let editing take a backseat.
Whether you knew about stream of consciousness writing before this blog or not, you have all the necessary information to give it a try. Now that you have a clear understanding of what stream of consciousness writing is and its effectiveness, you can confidently add it to your writing toolbox to expand your horizons as a writer.
Adeline is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where she majored in Communications with a concentration in Public Relations and Journalism. Currently living in Charlotte, she enjoys reading, volleyball, and strolling through her favorite farmers markets with her Goldendoodle Theo.