Writing From The Unconscious

In looking back at some of my old works, I’ve realized how powerful the unconscious is in my writing. It seems I’m often trying to tell myself something that I don’t realize until seeing it in retrospect. It’s an interesting way to think about writing control.

Huh … your writing always seems like you were unconscious. So, have you ever had someone find things in your story that you didn’t intend to be there, but you realize is absolutely true? I mean, it’s traceable, it’s obvious, but you didn’t put it there … consciously.

That’s what I’m talking about. It’s an interesting thing. Some writers talk about channeling a voice or some such, but it seems clear to me that what they’re really channeling is an unconscious part of themselves. It’s some part of them that is desperate to talk but has been shut down, closed off, and this is the only way it can find its way out. Writing (or other creative work) seems like it can very effectively serve as a spout for the hurting self.

You don’t know what you’re talking about, do you. I guess, in the past, I have prided myself on being in control of my writing. I’ve talked about it this way: “I am the god of my writing, and I am omnipotent. I am the creator.” And I still kind of feel like that’s true … except there are parts of me that are creating that I’m unaware of.

Unfortunately, when the unconscious speaks too much, it ends up being rather emotionally transparent. I’m not much fond of the idea of writing autobiographically, yet so many of my older works (and even some of my newest works, at least to a degree) end up speaking to my personal emotional experience. There’s some well within me that leaks onto the page, and I’m not sure how to feel about it.

Getting all touchy-feely, eh? Well, that’s just it. Should fiction be wholly fiction? Should writers have better control of that unconscious self? Should it be embraced? I don’t know the answer to these questions, but I feel like it has made my past work something repetitive … redundant, even (get it? ‘Cuz I said it twice).

A poet friend of mine talks a lot about writing as though he is a medium. He feels this is important to writing poetry effectively. Maybe it’s key to embrace it. I don’t know. I know, when he first said that to me, I found it preposterous and distasteful. I again thought, BUT I AM THE GOD OF MY WORLDS! Still, I realize that it can’t be true that I’m in such control (depending on if you think of the unconscious as still being the “I”).

Zzzzzzz …. Anyway, it’s food for thought. I wonder where the appropriate acceptance is of the unconscious working its way into writing. Is it controllable? Should it be encouraged? What’s to be done? Thoughts, oh reader(s)?

About Adam Nannini

The greatest writer of his generation ... which isn't saying much.
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One Response to Writing From The Unconscious

  1. Derks says:

    Try Karl Ove Knausgaard on for size. He doesn’t attribute to the unconscious his perceptive writing, but instead insists that he must write the worst shit about himself that he can, while remaining honest. He believes, therein lies the most compelling writing. Must admit, I’m not a huge fan of the Freudian idea of the sub-conscious. What bears it out? Why should one believe in it? It’s based on speculation and preconceptions as far as I can tell.

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