Trust the Subconscious

I recently finished a story in a whirlwind of subconscious-driven words. It was a blast to write that way, something my logical side loves to suppress.

But suppress isn’t a strong enough word. My logical side crushes the voice of the subconscious, stomps on it until the story falls out flat and lifeless.

This time, however, I managed to just go with it. Fix it when it’s finished, I told myself.

But I didn’t fix anything.

When I started rewriting, I nearly cut a few of the more inspired chunks because they didn’t fit my market-influenced (and misguided) idea of good writing. But, I managed to stop myself. I left those portions. They somehow felt right, like they belonged there. Instead of cutting them, I sent the story off to my editor. I knew full well she’d tell me to make the cuts.

I should have put more trust that my subconscious knew what it was doing.

Not only did she not tell me to make the cuts, she told me to push even further with them. Those subconscious bits that logic tried to force out, those were some of her favorite parts.

For me as a writer, when I try to logic my way through a story, it inevitably falls flat. Hayao Miyazaki has said he removes logic from his approach to storytelling:

“Logic is using the front part of the brain, that’s all. But you can’t make a film with logic. Or if you look at it differently, everybody can make a film with logic. But my way is to not use logic.”

After this experience, I think it’s time to do the same. Logic has its place (though I’m starting to doubt even that), but the drafting stage isn’t it.

After feeling so many of my stories had come out flat recently, I think it’s time for a different approach.

Trust your subconscious. I’ll be trusting mine from now on.


Miyazaki quote taken from his Midnight Eye interview

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