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Friday, July 4, 2014

Swimming in the Subliminal Soup

I've read that when you have a successfully creative day, you should stop and take note of the circumstances that allowed it, so that you can try to recreate them in the future. So, here it goes.

This morning I woke up at 3:50 am with thoughts of a solution for a poem that had been going wrong for me. I've woken up with fully formed solutions in my head before (see this post and this one) thus I am a big believer in using the liminal space between waking and sleep for creativity (see here, and here), but this time I woke up without the answer but with the conviction that I could solve the answer, if I thought about it hard right then and there. And so I drifted in and out of sleep.musing and making illogical connections that the sleep state is so good for, and the answer did come. Then came answers to another poem that had been stalled, and then some new ideas for two new poems, and then some more revision ideas.

So you can imagine that I'm interested in recreating this kind of amazing flow that I encountered between sleep and wakefulness for about an hour and a half this morning. How did this extremely productive time come to be?

First, I went to bed after reading poetry (Charles Wright, in case you are interested) and I fell asleep thinking about a poem that was stuck. These pre-sleep inputs gave my unconscious mind the suggestion to work on the creative problem I was having.

Second, this week I have been trying to go to bed 30 minutes earlier than usual to combat the exhaustion I've been feeling of late. I think that getting more rest over several days made it possible for me to be able to stay in the liminal space this morning rather than falling back to a deep sleep (or even a fitful unsatisfying sleep). I think if I had been as tired as I usually am, I would not have had access to the liminal space and to my subconscious work on the problem.

Third, this week I received some feedback from a poet whose work I admire, some very specific feeback, and it gave me a starting point for thinking about a trend in what goes wrong with my work. Having access to his observations pointed my thinking in a way that was more fruitful than my own floundering around usually is.

All this came together this morning in a perfect storm of creativity in my mind. Here's hoping I can instigate another frenzied storm in the near future.

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