Near the end of the midway point of this blog I detail the exercise for you (audio file included) and how I took my protégée from her list-making, technical writing habit into the land of rich and creative storytelling. Hang in there. As Robin Williams said, playing the character Mrs. Doubtfire, “Brace yourself, Effie.”
The human body takes in external experiences via our sensory vehicles. We move through the world collecting data on our environment with our skin, ears, nose, tongue and eyes. Our minds translate the data, interpret it, and we then react or respond appropriately in a way that favors our continued existence.
But we don’t stop there. The data we collect stays with the experience of who we are. Part of our mind continues to process this information in the background to help distill more efficient paths for us to move through the world, favoring our continued existence, in better ways.
You can think of it metaphorically as having the conscious mind, the subconscious, and the intuitive mind. Think of the intuitive mind as that which processes the unlimited creative potential of the unconscious mind and ties that into the conscious mind’s present and future directives.
Example: We see a large rhino. The rhino attacks us. We survive by running into a narrow fissure in the rock we had noticed days earlier.
In this case the present, conscious mind, directive is survival. We intuit the best place to run because our mind has recorded and analyzed the environment and made potential comparatives between the size of our bodies, the size of the fissure in the rock, how far away it is…it may have already worked out this very survival situation in dreams we have had noticing the large rhino before.
The unconscious mind plays with the many different variables we may not have been conscious of during any initial encounter. This is the unconscious’ strong point!
As an example of how much data we collect of which we are unaware, take our skin. Our skin doesn’t feel just pain; it feels variations in temperature, moisture—or lack of, sheering tension, electrical fields, pressure. We can actually determine direction of applied force with the sense of pressure.
All this data, and more, gets fed into our unconscious mind, most of which we aren’t aware of on a daily basis.
The neat thing is we can actually feed the unconscious a problem and let it work to find us a solution. The more regularly we do this, the more practiced the mind becomes at working out, or assisting, present mind directives.
Our voice is our DNA and gene-based need for the expression of the creative and the life that moves through us. Life’s goal is to continue life. Life adapts best for survival when there is variety in and of its expression. Variety feeds new ideas, new data, for our unconscious and conscious minds to process and challenge us beyond our current expression.
We have an external experience—independent of us, though having the presence to directly affect, and change, us—and we have an internal experience, which is the culmination of everything we have encountered, sensed, and internalized during our lifetimes.
The internal experience can trap us into cyclic patterns of thought, especially if we experience some type of trauma, or unresolved issue, and don’t have an outside perspective to break that pattern, or to insert reality into our “holding pattern” of irresolution. The longer we internalize cyclic patterns of thought, the longer one must experience, and trust, a new perspective that will break us out of that pattern.
If our voice gets shut down through well-meaning, or intentionally harsh, criticism—and we accept that someone else’s voice as more valuable than our own—then our light, our variety of expression we can lend to the world, is diminished. Creativity and progress as a whole get reduced.
Intuition, creativity, and our voice are intertwined. We must first be aware of and then free to trust and express that voice regularly to strengthen its presence in our writing or whatever creative directive we set for ourselves.
It’s not enough to have a desire for a project like a novel and the creative thought guided by intuitive processing, to flesh out a novel, or any long-term project; we must also have consistent practices and application to see the project to completion.
As with being able to sell a novel, you must write the whole thing first. This is where your daily, consistent application to doing the work of writing comes into play.
That’s another blog. Let’s now get on with the exercise and the experience of intuitive writing for yourself.
When I was challenged by my mentee, or protégée, in my first blog on intuitive writing, I demonstrated what I went through to process that scene. My challenge to you is to write a short little scene or story based on the following information:
You are in a desert wearing only ragged clothing. You have no water, no food, no way to connect with anyone else. On the horizon you see a line of mountain range. You know you will never make it to that range before you perish. You are not long from perishing as it is.
Next to you is a creature. This can be any creature real or created, though it is small, something you could carry easily. It speaks to you for a little while, carrying on a conversation, and it asks you a question that makes you remember a memory from your life.
You finish the story perishing, though this does not have to be a sad story.
That’s your challenge.
I presented this to my protégée about a week ago and she surprised me with a beautiful little story that had me immersed and made me proud.
Let me tell you a little about her. We’ll call her Erica. She is an intelligent (perhaps too much for her own good ;)) woman with an expansive corporate world presence and experience. She was one of the movers and shakers in that world that included marketing, organizing hundreds of people and material and planning on a large scale.
She is awesome at planning, structuring, collecting data and organizing it in a practical manner.
This skill set inhibited her from being relaxed and trusting of the mercurial creative immersion required for storytelling.
She has many wonderful things going for her, some of which are: she is dedicated to a goal; she attacks a problem with regular, consistent methodology to find a solution; she applies herself daily—regardless of outside interference or call to pleasure—to the completion of her goals.
When she started this creative task, one of many I employ to help get her past the list-making, practical mindset that works wonderfully for a technical manual, she did what she does best: she started making a list of memories from which she would select a few.
I smiled and halted her after she had told me about the list. The directive of the writing assignment wasn’t to come up with memories to write about, it was to create a setting that would spur the discovery of a memory, one she would intuit based on the small creature she created.
This creature and the setting is important to the memory. It’s easy for us to approach something with fear; we are very practiced with this in life. The inclusion of a small creature, one you create, allows you to transfer the responsibility of that approach to something else. A small creature, perhaps defenseless, but not needing to be, becomes the vehicle that bypasses your reticence to pull forth a memory you may be uncomfortable drawing to the fore normally. How often do we find ourselves talking freely to a pet, or plant, or survival potato we keep in our pocket?
So, that’s the assignment.
To help you bypass your list-making, practical mind, I’m including a little visualization to listen to taken directly from this exercise. It’s part meditation, part relaxation, all creativity.
Listen to the audio guide (free) here.
You can also download the mp3 by right-clicking (control-click on the Mac) on the link and then choosing Download linked file as…