No matter what problem you’re trying to solve or decision you’re trying to make, stream-of-consciousness writing will help you tap into your intuition faster.
Ep. 23: What It Takes to Be a Boundary Queen – Start, Grow, or Pivot: Business Planning & Strategies For Women Entrepreneurs
Usually, we think of stream-of-consciousness writing in terms of authors. Virginia Woolf, William Faulkner, and Edgar Allen Poe used this style of narrative writing in their work—but we will use this technique to understand ourselves better, not to develop a character in a book.
No writing skills necessary!
Visionaries like you are prone to getting sidetracked by mainstream narratives and conditioning. This means that when you try and mine your brain for new concepts and ideas, it’s hard to sift through the clutter to find the gold.
My goal in sharing my perspective on stream-of-consciousness writing is to help you use this method to uncover your most genuine desires without any outside noise getting in the way.
What is stream-of-consciousness writing, and how do I do it?
My definition of stream-of-consciousness writing, sometimes called stream-of-thought style writing, is when you sit down and start typing without regard for what thoughts and feelings tumble out of your head and onto the page.
In this kind of writing session, you don’t care about spelling, grammar, or punctuation, and there’s absolutely no filter.
All you need is a quiet and comfortable place to sit, a laptop or computer (not paper—more on that later), and a few minutes of uninterrupted time.
Open a new document on your computer and start typing without any specific purpose, direction, or thought. Type as quickly as you can, and don’t stop until the session is over.
My sessions tend to begin with “I don’t have anything to write about,” and they still end with an epiphany. So don’t be discouraged if your first words aren’t inspiring or insightful.
What can stream-of-consciousness writing do for me?
If I were to distill the benefits of stream-of-consciousness writing into one sentence, I’d say it allows you to bypass your rational brain’s (well-meaning) limits so you can tap into what you truly want out of your life and business.
It gives you access to a world where there are no rules.
Where your brain doesn’t have a chance to ask: “but what about…?”
Where you are free to explore the depths of your subconscious mind; your intuition.
When your intuition is the only voice speaking, you’re free to bypass a few things:
- Judgment and shame about your dreams
- Worrying about “the how” – especially when your ideas are big and bold
- people pleasing
- being realistic (what does that even mean?)
If you’ve ever chased a dream only to achieve it and STILL feel unhappy/unfulfilled/unsatisfied – this is a big sign that your thinking mind cultivated your “dream.” The thinking mind has minimal capacity for finding your most authentic desires because it has a rigid filter that keeps out all the ideas that are either too big, too weird, or too complex.
The brain’s filter is critical for keeping unwanted information away. Can you imagine if you had to THINK about every little piece of data that came into your body? Everything you saw, everything you heard, smelled, touched, tasted. It would be too much. It would overwhelm your senses to the point of shutting down.
We NEED this filter. It’s part of our safety mechanism as humans, and I, for one, am grateful AF for it (most of the time). The problem is that our brain doesn’t automatically adjust the filter to let big ideas through, so they get caught in it.
When I need the filter to shift, I do it manually; I do it on purpose. That’s where stream-of-consciousness writing comes in.
What you can find out with stream-of-consciousness writing
When you can explore the nooks and crannies of your mind in its most unrestrained form, you finally have access to a well of desires that will bring you happiness, fulfillment, and purpose in your business.
Sometimes we get stuck on a particular trajectory because we think it’s “the way” when really it’s just “one way” – and it might not even be the best one we’ve got.
It’s just all we know.
We are complacent, we have our blinders on, and even when we take time for big picture thinking or working ON our business instead of IN our business, the bold desires we uncover with stream-of-consciousness writing are not accessible.
Can I access my intuition without stream-of-consciousness writing?
In truth, there are many ways to access these deep desires. Some people like to meditate, especially using guided imagery, for example.
And this can be useful.
But I find that many people don’t want to meditate, don’t feel like they can do it regularly, or don’t think they’re good at it. Especially for those with neurodivergent brains, meditation isn’t always the best way to tap into your intuition.
Meditation works because it quiets the mind. Meditation allows us to drop into a slower brain state (usually referred to as theta), where our rational, logical mind takes a back seat to our intuition.
But for those who don’t want to meditate, stream-of-consciousness writing is a great alternative.
The mechanics are different, though.
Stream-of-consciousness writing essentially creates an environment where your intuition can “outrun” your thoughts. Your true desires will spill out of you before your brain has time to ask, “but what about…?”.
It’ll be too late. The train has already left the station, and your rational mind was not on board.
Speed is why I recommend using a keyboard instead of a pen and paper. In the time it would take you to get your flow of thoughts onto paper, your logical mind could have hijacked the train and taken over the driver’s seat.
What to do after your stream-of-consciousness writing session
Even with practice, you’ll only be able to outrun your rational brain for a few minutes at a time.
You’ll be able to feel when it’s time to stop. You’ll know as soon as your intuition gets quieter and slower and your “thinking brain” comes back online.
That’s okay because this is a sprint, not a marathon.
Here are some signs it’s time to end your session:
- filtering what you write
- thinking about grammar, spelling, punctuation
- imaging someone else’s reaction to reading your words
- wondering how you’ll make any of these dreams happen in real life
- thinking this is silly
Stream-of-consciousness writing is best done in short bursts (a few minutes each).
When you take a step back, expect your brain to get to work challenging what you wrote, making judgments about it, and wanting to delete it before anyone sees it.
First, remember that you are always in control. You don’t have to act on any of what you wrote, share it with anyone, or even understand it fully—at least for now.
Depending on where you are on your journey to giving fewer fucks about what people think and how much you trust – or don’t trust – the universe to have your back, it might not feel safe to make any moves based on what you discovered during your session.
Any reaction to what you uncover is allowed, whether good or bad. (Actually, there is no such thing as a “good” or “bad” emotion, but that’s a topic for another day.)
The most common thing to happen, at least for me, after one of these sessions is this:
- I read what I wrote and think, YES, this is precisely what my soul has been dying to show me!
- I freak out because I don’t know how in the world I’m supposed to make it happen.
- I spin around in confusion, doing mental gymnastics, trying to figure out some kind of action plan that might work.
- I exhaust myself, give up and move on with a more “realistic” plan and hope that someday I’ll find the answer out of the blue and everything will come together like magic.
This is a trap.
It is a universal law that what you want wants you.
If during your experiment with stream-of-consciousness writing, your intuition has revealed a desire, you can trust that it’s there because you are the one to make it manifest.
Ideas, like everything else in the world, are energy. As Elizabeth Gilbert so eloquently explains in her book, Big Magic, “Ideas have no material body, but they do have consciousness, and they most certainly have will. Ideas are driven by a single impulse: to be made manifest. And the only way an idea can be made manifest in our world is through collaboration with a human partner. It is only through a human’s efforts that an idea can be escorted out of the ether and into the realm of the actual.”
If you’re a visionary, a dreamer, or an innovator, I invite you to try stream-of-consciousness writing as an alternative to meditation. I encourage you to use this technique to dig into your intuition and make space for it to show you the path forward.
Eventually, yes, you’ll want to explore “the how” so you can make strides toward whatever goals or dreams you outlined. And that’s where a coach, mentor, or consultant comes in because every type of business will need something a little bit different.
But the first step to getting anywhere is pinpointing where it is you want to go, gaining lots of clarity around it, and finding the partner or team that can help get you there.
What do you think? Comment here (yes, we actually read these)!