My Subconscious is a Mysterious Stranger, Who I Don’t Trust.

Relax. It’s allllllllllllllll good.

I’m not about to go out and wreak havoc on the world, because some dark figure from the nether-regions of my mind commanded me to “gather an army of ninja cats, train them in the art of urban strategic warfare, and lead them on a bloody crusade to colonise (feline-ise?) every last, damned dog walking park IN THE WORLD!!! Mmmmmwwwwahahahahahaha!!!!” (dog people extremists – chill – I love dogs too).

No. The pretty pink pills keep that dark figure locked up, deep, deep inside nowadays.

KIDDING!!! Ahem…

This is an article about creative muse, specifically: the story of me learning to trust mine.

On account of my songwriting and I not getting along for a while now (music and I are sweet, but lyrics are the bane of my existence), we’ve all decided to amicably separate – have some time apart.

OK… THAT’S A FUCKING LIE!!!

The truth is – I haven’t been happy with my lyric muse for a while now, and the other night, she caught me in bed, writing… SHORT STORY FICTION!!!

(Please don’t steal my ninja cat idea.)

The affair with this form of writing (I’m hoping to share my first story here soon) has been exciting, satisfying, at times challenging, and last night, led me to discovering… that I don’t trust my subconscious.

While in bed drifting off to sleep, I was thinking about what career to write for a character I’d been working on, when the word “novelist” popped into my mind. Immediately and unequivocally, I rejected the idea. No assessment of the merit of “novelist” took place. Just an instantaneous, gut driven “thanks for coming… NEXT!”

Third person mode kicked in, and, bemused by the thought process that had just taken place, I wondered why I’d so arrogantly dismissed the character’s career idea, without the slightest attempt to assess it.

I evaluated whether “novelist” was a bad fit for the story, and concluded there was no valid reason to reject it. It just seemed to feel wrong, like… I didn’t trust the idea.

After some more thought, I realised something valuable…

It wasn’t the idea I didn’t trust – it was who had suggested it. The who being the innate, yet almost completely unfamiliar entity within – my S-U-B-C-O-N-S-C-I-O-U-S (insert impressive amounts of evil sounding echo and reverb)!!!!!!!!!

So essentially, I don’t trust myself??? WTF??????

I dug deeper, and found diamonds…

My subconscious is a mysterious stranger, who makes suggestions that I react to. I don’t really know anything about this stranger, except that they sometimes treat me well, by making suggestions that lead to positive outcomes, and then, like a sadistic fucktard, they sometimes try to sabotage me, by throwing past failures or emotional scars (baggage) into my mind at the most inopportune times.

Why would I EVER trust someone like this???

In most situations, ideas/suggestions/instructions that bubble up from the subconscious HAVE to be filtered, otherwise life would be chaotic.

But in this case, my overprotective conscious mind had chosen not to give my imagination a chance, let alone the unconditional trust it requires during the creative stage of writing. I’d basically slapped my subconscious in it’s chiseled, handsome face (who gives their subconscious an ugly avatar?) and told it to shut up and fuck off.

Why would I do that?

My “Why I Struggle to Trust My Subconscious” list (so far)…

  • all the times it’s kicked me in the balls (the sabotage mentioned above)
  • my ego hates to lose – in this case my arrogant need to avoid deferring to anyone (yes – even myself) in order to look good, won the battle
  • fear of where a potentially good idea might end up leading my life aka fear of the unknown
  • it’s much easier to instead indulge the survival mechanism that kicks in to prevent me from creating something that could lead to me being ostracised
  • the voice that pops up to say “Why are you even trying, you talentless git???” (ties in with the sabotage theme, but this pervasive fucker deserves it’s own spotlight)
  • sometimes I’m just in a tired, lazy mood, and will use any excuse to sleep rather than write the next thousand words of my Man Booker International masterpiece (judge me all you like – I’ll still sign my book for you).

But how to let my subconscious take control and tell the story, when it’s a mysterious stranger, who I don’t trust? Herein lies the dilemma of the creative mind!!!

What’s working for me…

  • staying aware of the stupidity of the internal politics in my head. This has kept the ideas (good and bad) flowing, by helping to dampen down the editing/crafting part of my brain when I’m in create-mode
  • recognising that, for me at least, writers block seems to be the result of an overactive conscious mind, not an under-performing subconscious
  • being willing to step up to the “you’ll probably end up looking like a giant dumb-ass” plate each time I write. I’m on it RIGHT NOW!
  • continuing to read and learn the psychology pertaining to areas of my life that need working on
Some books to help you develop your creative muse:

The Act of Creation, a Study of the Conscious and Unconscious in Science and Art, by Arthur Koestler

What’s working for you? What helps you to trust your subconscious, and let it be free to create?

Post your book suggestions and thoughts up on the Facebook conversation: https://www.facebook.com/Shaunthomsoncom/posts/1318608091530989