Thanks to recent revelations in neuroscience, we’re starting to realize that the conscious mind is about as important to the brain as our sun is to the Milky Way. In other words, it ain’t worth a daggum thing!
One metaphor I saw compared the conscious mind to a company’s CEO who does none of the work but takes all the credit. Sure, we all walk around figuring, “Hey, I’m the guy running this show,” but can you imagine having to remember to breathe, or keep your heart beating, or blinking so your eyes don’t dry up?
Fact is, every important bodily task is commanded by the subconscious.
Learning itself is simply the process of turning a conscious act into an unconscious one. From driving to dancing to dunking a basketball, we have to repeat the moves over and over until we can do it “without thinking.”
Some folks understandably find this downgrading of the conscious mind from King of the Castle to Mouthy Passenger a pretty unpleasant surprise.
Not me, though. As a seriously lazy mofo, I love hearing that some magical hidden section of my brain is doing all the hard work! And nowhere is that more evident than in creativity.
A lotta writers out there describe their craft as akin to archeology, where they feel like they’re not creating these stories so much as excavating them, digging them up already complete.
Heck, many artists (not just writers) mention a feeling of external origin for their inspirations — gods, spirits, the collective soul, etc. But it seems to me these are responses to the fact that an artist’s subconscious is doing all the hard work behind the scenes, revealing the fruits of that hidden labor at juuust the right moment.
So here’s a tip: embrace the subconscious! Let that shadowy so-and-so do all your work for ya!
Whenever I get stuck in a story, I hand it over to my subconscious. My preferred method is to tuck myself into bed at night and fall asleep thinking about the story. I just let my mind wander around the characters and all their shenanigans until I’m out.
In fact, I fall asleep every night thinking about whatever story I’m working on, whether I’m stuck or not — and more often than not I wake up with ideas already on deck and waiting.
Now, this ain’t a vending machine, so it’s not like you’ll get the exact answer to your exact problem the very next day. Consider it more like submitting a request form to the lower departments. Keep sending those forms, every night. Make sure those folks downstairs are earning their paychecks!
Pretty soon, you’ll start getting helpful memos sent up to your top floor office every morning. Take ‘em and run with ‘em, trusting that your subconscious crunched the numbers and came up with those results for a good reason.
This method works for me like gangbusters, and I hope it’ll work for you too.
Because there’s something comforting in knowing that even though the subconscious is still big and mysterious and off limits to my conscious self, it’s still happy to help out whenever I need it. And I get to take all the credit!