Last post, I type-jabbered about twitter fiction as a writing exercise. Tonight, before bed, let’s you and me lay the lowdown on another goody-goody habit I’m getting back into.
First, set up a writing station—the closer to your bed the better—could be your computer, laptop, a pen n’ notebook, or the Etch A Sketch you stole from that orphan (I prefer a keyboard because my typing fingers can still go click-clack when the rest of my mind/body isn’t functioning).
I’ll wait while you set up. Never mind the silhouette at the window.
But keep this thought in the back of your lizard brain: when you wake up, you will go straight to that writing station. Do not hesitate. Do not wait to wake up. Do not stretch. Do not crawl out of bed—LEAP—do not pass GO, do not go to the bathroom—do not grab breakfast—go to your station as quickly as you can while still half asleep.
This takes practice. You might have to do it for a week or more before you get conditioned into stumbling to that writing station without realizing it. You might forget a time or to—hit the bathroom—wait too long in bed—wake up too much. Don’t worry. Go through the motion anyway. Program yourself.
Once at your station, WRITE. Scribble or type as fast as you can. No thinking. Leave your editing brain off. You are literally on a race, seeing how long you can outrun your waking mind. You might get a sentence or two. You might get a paragraph. Eventually you will stop. You will be awake. You will really-really-really need to pee. The exercise is over.
So why are we doing this?
Your subconscious is bigger and smarter than you. Give it your lunch money.
We are trying to access your sleeping mind. That sucker is powerful. It is bigger than the rest of you. It is a glowing, cosmic, comic book MacGuffin, and you are a super villain excavating the forbidden tomb of your skull, and once you get a hold of that thing, you are going to work some nefarious hullabaloo!
I’m starting the exercise up again because my inner-editor has gotten too pushy during first drafts. I need to let that go and let spontaneous things happen on the early draft page.
Save those scribblings—in a file or in that notebook. Come back to them a week later, months later—it’s like looking at something a stranger wrote. A lot of them won’t make sense. That’s ok. The idea is to be in better touch with your sleeping mind. You may find the occasional gem, a story idea or weird turn of phrase or metaphor you might not have otherwise achieved.
Keep practicing. You’ll get more conditioned. You’ll get to that computer while closer and closer to sleep, and curiouser and curiouser things will come tumbling out.
Here are some examples of mine. I’ve only edited for spelling and punctuation (which tend to fly out the door during this).
Fred never had the thing that all Fred’s should have. Its absence in his life was a loud cicada whining for that mating that will never happen, not before his wings shriveled up.
The tunnel did funnel and the tunnel did chunnel all the way to Rome. The bats never dream of the moon beams that scream, and the teaming shadows seam to wither hither go!
That is the way she goes. Down and up but never in. That is the way she flows. Smooth and clear, but always running, rushing, smoothing the stones of her soul. And what she chases or what chases her, none of us may ever know.
There’s a moon over the town. But that’s a lie because the one in the sound is the real one. The sky’s a fake. Conmen come in all sorts of revenue brackets. But the seagulls chant incompressible ear porn on salt winds and I can’t help but think back to the time that the peg-legged girl gave me that bit of advice during the pillow talk.
Eat a pie and watch my eye as I tell you a tale of how you will die. It ‘s not true. Don’t worry. I’m just a fibber who makes very, very good pie. And it’s made from magpies. I catch them with a spoon. A wicked, wicked spoon, brings them to their doom, and then I make magpie pie. And that is all I care to say on death…but let us talk more on the subject of pie. Pies are round. No beginning and no end…and yet…they run out. This proves that immortality is not infinite. It can be eaten. It can spoil and go bad.