How I found stream of consciousness writing

by Alex Christopher (Seaside Writing creator)

I came to stream of consciousness via a premature mid-life crisis – when I turned around 33. I was done with my job and I was looking for my next move, absolutely craving to be more “me”. Problem was though, that I didn’t know what that meant exactly.

I had got sick. The cancer word was dangled over my head. I had run myself into the ground and low and behold my body gave me a reason to slow down. I had a suspicious growth on my ovary. Not good they said. And one night when I wasn’t sleeping from worry I became curious as to how I could have developed this growth when I was usually so healthy: fit, (mostly) vegetarian, yogi. It didn’t really add up.

I did a few searches on the internet – and one link really resonated. It was a site that had the answer for all ailments based on type of illness, correlated with area of the body.

It said: growth = blockage. And ovary = creativity. A blockage on my creativity.

Oooooohhhhhhhh. Ouch.

Something thumped in my realisation.

Somewhere along the path from university and job-seeking I’d forgotten I was creative. I loved painting, pottery, writing, designing, making of any kind.

Reflection on how I had let life get in the way of my passion of creativity set in. My body had sent me a warning sign is what I was telling myself.

Equipped with this information, I set about to redefine my hours that aligned with my childhood fancies. But how to get back to being creative after so much time writing reports, teaching and coordinating people and things? It was hard. I needed help. I had the will and motivation now, but the practical reintegration was proving a challenge.

I was referred to a book called, “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. In it she guides creative people who have lost their way, back to being creative, dispelling fears and “I can’ts” along the way. First step Cameron said was to write every day in what she calls the Morning Pages. She suggested stream of consciousness style writing for three pages every morning – to clear the cobwebs, so to speak. And from there, I was hooked.

Stream of consciousness helped me create a dedicated time to extract thoughts and deal with them in a way that was accessible and limited so that I didn’t delve too deeply into matters of the mind. It helped me get back into a practise-mentality for writing. It got me reacquainted with a pen and paper. It got me sitting on my front porch every morning, looking up to the mountain near my house.

Memories surfaced and rode the wave out of me and onto a page. But mostly my morning pages, in those early stages, just became a to-do list of what I had to do that day. It took some time to do what stream of consciousness is ultimately trying to achieve: to relax and to delete or muse on scattered thoughts. I pursued the practice and reflected that this stream of consciousness thing made me feel good. In my body and mind. And it only took about ten minutes.

Stream of consciousness writing, or a variation on Julia Cameron’s idea, was then the activity that I brought to Seaside Writing when I started it in 2017. It seemed to settle everyone in attendance. It might not always be the most pleasant concept – to connect to our crazy minds. Let’s face it – avoiding that sometimes sounds much nicer.

But my experience has been very positive. Personally and in watching how it has opened others up.

Stream of consciousness is a cornerstone for Seaside Writing and I encourage everyone to give it a go. Consider after a while how it makes you feel: when you’re doing it, directly after you’ve done it and then how it may affect your mood, relationships and creativity.

 

Have a go of stream of consciousness writing at our Retreat!