Stream of consciousness in literature expresses an individual’s sensory impressions and thoughts seemingly as they happen, without revision. This style of writing produces valuable works of literature, but it's also a great technique to get over writer’s block and start filling your blank pages.
Choosing a Point of View
Point of view sets the tone and the mood of your story. It allows you to manipulate and control the distance between your characters and the reader, explains a teacher's guide "The Stream of Consciousness Technique" from the National Endowment for the Arts. Stream of consciousness brings the reader extremely close to the character. The reader receives full view of the character's uncensored thoughts. The reader believes nothing gets omitted. Nothing is secret. Everything is laid bare, drawing the reader into the story.
Beginning to Write
Beginning writers often fear the blank page. They think all written words must be profound and perfect. This is simply not true. Beginning with a stream of consciousness exercise frees the beginning writer from the compulsion to edit while writing. It eliminates the need to be perfect. It allows a writing instructor to show the benefits of getting free-flowing ideas down on paper before going back to review, revise and cut.
Beating Writer's Block
Even experienced writers get writer’s block, or a lack of ideas. Stream of consciousness reveals a writer’s innermost thoughts. The writer who can embrace the free-flowing nature of the stream of consciousness style may find that connections and ideas develop that would not have formed with a more structured writing technique. The literary exercise works with pen and paper, computer, tablet or even a voice recording. While the beginning writer may want to write for a certain about of time or to reach a certain word count, the experienced writer may forgo such limitations and just write.
Writers such as James Joyce, Albert Camus, Fyodor Dostoyevsky and T.S. Elliot wrote in streams of consciousness quite often. “The Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock” by T.S. Elliot is often required reading in a high school English curriculum. More recently, authors such as Bret Easton Ellis, who wrote "Less Than Zero" and "American Psycho," and Jonathan Safran Foer, author of “Everything Is Illuminated,” have embraced stream of consciousness writing.
Suzy Kerr graduated from Grady School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Georgia. She completed her Master's degree in Nutrition Sciences, also at the University of Georgia. Suzy has been a successful health, fitness and nutrition writer for more than 10 years, and has been published in various print and online publications.