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WRITERS’ FOURTH WEDNESDAY SELF-CHALLENGE: Stream of Consciousness Writing

Writers’ Fourth Wednesday is a gift of Victoria C. Slotto (Victoria C. Slotto, Author: Fiction, Poetry and Writing Prompts). Victoria is an accomplished writer and poet. Winter is Past, published by Lucky Bat Books in 2012, is Victoria’s first novel.  A second novel is in process.  Jacaranda Rain — Collected poems, 2012 is available on Amazon, as is the hot-off-the-press nonfiction, Beating the Odds: Support for Persons with Early Stage Dementia. Victoria’s poetry collection and non-fiction book are free to Amazon Prime Members.  Link HERE for Victoria’s Amazon page

Eons ago, when I was a student nurse, I did my psychiatric nursing rotation at Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino, California. At the time, before these institutions were decentralized (and before homelessness became an issue) the hospital was a veritable city, caring for over 5000 patients. Many of these were classified as simple schizophrenics, people whose only pathology was that they couldn’t function in society (a number of today’s homeless.)

Image: deviantart.com
Image: deviantart.com

One day, the instructor gave us an assignment to spend a day, journaling ALL our thoughts. By the end of the day, I was ready to self-commit myself. I learned that my thought processes, feelings, perceptions—all flit about like the bees and hummingbirds in our flower and vegetable garden. The object of the exercise was to show us that there was a very slim thread between those of us who thought we were normal, and our patients.

In the post-realism period of literary history, the era when James Joyce, William Faulkner, Marcel Proust and other literary greats emerged and opened the door to modernism (1930’s and 1940’s), stream-of-consciousness writing became another literary device in the tool box of both fiction writers and poets. More contemporary figures in the world of poetry who turned to this technique include Jack Kerouac and Sylvia Plath. In stream-of-consciousness writing, the poet or novelist turns to the flow of ideas, observations and emotions that invade our consciousness. Novelist Virginia Woolf described this process as “an incessant shower of innumerable atoms.”

Photo: sameeart.com
Photo: sameeart.com

This type of writing often produces a fair share of challenges for the reader who may struggle to find a sense of connection between one thought and another. With careful reading, it may become apparent, or maybe not.

Here are a few hints to help you work with reading and writing poetry or prose that uses the stream of consciousness technique.

Choose a topic. You might think of a person, and activity or even a dream. Take a walk, go someplace public.
• Write with pen or pencil on paper. Draw pictures. You may even choose to use your writing journal to jot down your own little (schizophrenic) episodes.
• When you write in your journal, be different. Write with your non-dominant hand, write all over the page, not just in lines, write from bottom to top. Write in spirals or shapes. Forget grammar and syntax.
• Review your writing for any connection you can discover between words and phrases and see where your poem will take you.
• Put your work aside for a while before returning to it.

Image: canyoustayfordinner.com
Image: canyoustayfordinner.com

This can be a very fun and freeing exercise—I hope you enjoy it. Whether or not you choose to share it here is up to you, but if you do, you will give others an opportunity to see it put into practice and thus, to learn from you.

To participate:

• Spend some time playing with your mind, using the above suggestions.
• Write your poem and post it on your blog or website.
• Access Mr. Linky at the bottom of this post and provide your name and the direct URL to your poem.

I look forward to seeing what your muse inspires, to visiting and commenting on your work. This is not a challenge in the sense of a competition, but rather one for you. Thanks for joining.

– Victoria C. Slotto

Author:

RN, former hospice nurse, kidney transplant survivor, spiritual seeker, novelist, poet—Victoria C. Slotto is the author of two novels: "Winter is Past" and "The Sin of His Father", a collection of poetry: "Jacaranda Rain," and a Kindle Single: "Beating the Odds--Support for Persons with Early Stage Dementia, " all of which are available in e-book and print formats. Use the link on my blog or visit my website at http://victoriacslotto.com/ to purchase. Thank you!

14 thoughts on “WRITERS’ FOURTH WEDNESDAY SELF-CHALLENGE: Stream of Consciousness Writing

  1. Good morning all. Thanks for all the comments and participation. I forgot I have an appointment this morning but will be back to read as soon as I can. Am really looking forward to it. And I will post one, too!

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  2. Ho, everyone–I’m back. Not sure how I messed up the link on number 6–Jamie, if possible could you delete it. Anyway, #7 is my contribution to stream-of-consciousness writing and I’m off to read those I haven’t yet discovered.

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  3. This is one I must try, but not this week, not least because we’re preparing to receive our grandchildren on Friday, who are staying for a week. So, if I were to find myself in a state such that I might have to self commit (gosh that must have been more like a harrowing self-counselling session, Victoria!) I’m not sure it would impress my daughter, not to mention the grandchildren … 😜. What a fascinating exercise.

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  4. I often write randomly while sitting in cafes…must remember to try doing it left handed sometime. Doing this exercise helped me write something for the annual Christmas card, so that’s a bonus! Thanks for the push.

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