Getting Water from the Well (Or, Cooperating with the Subconscious)

Well of InspirationBe A Novelist

I remember a writing instructor who once said that the subconscious mind is like a deep well and most people never bother to either 1) keep the well filled, or 2) bother to learn how to fetch refreshing water from the well.

I’m sure you’ve heard the term “the well of inspiration.” Perhaps you’ve even heard someone remark that the well has gone dry. Perhaps you’ve even said it yourself.

Keep the Well Filled

For most people going about their everyday lives, the majority of their thinking is in the conscious mind. Much of what is flitting about in the subconscious is ignored, or tamped down, or scoffed at. Novelists, however, cannot afford such luxury. It is in our best interest to understand, appreciate, and respect the subconscious. We must learn how to keep the well filled; we must learn how to get our inspirational water from that well.

Your conscious mind tends to think in linear, logical fashion. First you have A, then comes B, and after that comes C. Not so your subconscious. The subconscious mind works in a web-like fashion making random connections that, at first, may not make much sense. This is part of the reason why that information is easy to ignore.

That subconscious mind of yours wants to communicate; however, it’s often misunderstood. And even more, often underestimated. (Might I add undervalued?)

Amazing Things Happen

Be A NovelistLet’s say your subconscious wants to say something, but your first response is, “I don’t want to think about that right now.” Or, “I don’t have time to think about that right now.” Now what happens in any relationship when one party ignores the other? The ignored party becomes discouraged and indifferent. That ignored one may even begin to distance from the one who has treated him so shabbily.

How have you been treating your subconscious mind lately?  I can assure you, once you begin to recognize and respect your own subconscious, amazing things begin to happen.

In order to be super-productive old Mr. Subconscious needs plenty of stimulation. (Filling your well.) This can be books, art, travel, odd facts, insights, articles, specimens, interesting data, and on and on. My suggestion is that you do this purposefully, and on purpose. Meaning you know what you are doing, and you are expecting results!

Cooperate

Be A NovelistFrom there, you expect the subconscious to think about the issue (problem? dilemma? plot complication?) and work out the solution. You expect to wake up after a good night sleep with little thoughts skittering around in your mind. Grab them, catch them, write them down. Cooperate.

Sleep is wonderful in that it allows your conscious mind to shut up for a while; it gives the subconscious time and space to function as it is designed to function!

This is how you fill the well. This is how you encourage the subconscious to speak. It’s not something you can rush or force. The learning process takes time.

Your Subconscious is Eager

This may never have occurred to you before, but your subconscious is eager to work with you. It only needs permission to be released.

Be A NovelistThe subconscious is delighted with all the little bits of stimulating information that is sent its way. Likewise, you (your conscious mind) should be just as delighted – and appreciative – for the nuggets of meaning that the subconscious sends your way.

Most often, information from the subconscious will come to you as a little idea that pops into your mind almost spontaneously. At first it may seem irrelevant, but accept it at face value. Later, you may find it’s more important than the surface structure you are aware of.

But if not – if it never has any relevancy at all, ever – still and yet, you have just succeeded in learning a principle. You are learning how to get water from the well!

It can be the beginning of a great relationship!Be A Novelist

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© Grafvision | Dreamstime.com

4 thoughts on “Getting Water from the Well (Or, Cooperating with the Subconscious)

  1. Anne Konigsmark

    This dovetails perfectly with Julia Cameron’s advice in her book ARTIST’S WAY to write Morning Pages everyday. This lets the conscious subsequently take a back seat and lets the subconscious shine through. Thank you for reminding us novelists to keep enriching our reservoir of ideas, images, feelings and infallible truths of humanity. Take a peek at my own serialized novel now unveiling at http://annekonigsmark.wordpress.com . Comments are always welcomed and appreciated.

    Reply
  2. ruthhixson

    Norma Jean, your blog is quite informative. I alreadyknow about the subconscious’ ability to give me ideas and help. If I’m not getting ideas I don’t try to force it. I put that work aside and let my subconscious work on it while I work on something else. Lord knows I have enough work to keep me busy.

    Reply
    1. Norma Jean Lutz

      Good lesson to learn, right Ruth? I’ve done the same thing many times. Working outside in my garden usually does it for me. Or even a good night’s sleep. But much struggling came before I learned the lesson!!

      Reply

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