Writing Stream of Consciousness

Stream of Consciousness is the total range of awareness and emotive-mental response of an individual, from the lowest pre speech level to the highest fully articulated level of rational thought. The assumption is that in the mind of an individual at a given moment a stream of consciousness (the phrase originated in this sense with Alexander Bain in 1855 and was given currency later by William James) is a mixture of all the levels of awareness, an unending flow of sensations, thoughts, memories, associations, and reflections; if the exact content of the mind (“consciousness”) is to be described at any moment, then these varied, disjointed, and illogical elements must find expression in a flow of words, images, and ideas similar to the unorganized flow of the mind. However, because consciousness is neither a stream nor a thing given to verbal articulation, the stream-of-consciousness technique has become as artificial and convention-bound as any other literary technique, although it may give the impression or illusion of preserving a lifelike resemblance to real consciousness. Joyce’s approximation involved the removal of customary signals, such as quotation marks, hyphens in compounds, and chapter numbers and titles. By moving the written text closer to the realm of speech, which is normally unpunctuated, Joyce gave the impression, in effect, of moving his discourse from the outer world of the reading eye to the inner world of the listening ear…. (Handbook to Literature)

Stream of Consciousness Writing Exercise

Go to your favorite place—park, restaurant, bar, chair in your backyard. Sit with your journal and pen and close your eyes. Keep them closed and focus on the sounds and smells. When you open your eyes, write the sensory experience around you. When you think of something that seems completely unrelated, histrionic, futuristic or anything else, write the thoughts as they form in your mind. Forget about punctuation, sentence structure, grammar, spelling, just get the thoughts down as they come to you in whatever messy way they form. 

Resist the urge to edit as you write. Resist the urge to edit after writing. Close the journal and let it sit for a day or two. When you go back to it, try to let yourself read it for what it is rather than what you think it “should” be. 

Repeat this stream of consciousness exercise each day, as long as you can, so to form a sense of your voice in this freeflow form.

Submit to Eckleburg

We accept previously unpublished and polished prose up to 8,000 words year round, unless announced otherwise.  We are always looking for tightly woven short works under 2,000 words and short-shorts around 500 words. No multiple submissions but simultaneous is fine as long as you withdraw the submission asap through the submissions system. During the summer and winter months, we run our Writers Are Readers, Too, fundraiser when submissions are open only to subscribers. During the fall and spring, we open submissions for regular unsolicited submissions.

Note: We consider fiction, poetry and essays that have appeared in print, online magazines, public forums, and public access blogs as already being published. Rarely do we accept anything already published and then only by solicitation. We ask that work published at Eckleburg not appear elsewhere online, and if republished in print, original publication credit is given to The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review. One rare exception is our annual Gertrude Stein Award, which allows for submissions of previously published work, both online and print. Submit your work.

Eckleburg Workshops

Take advantage of our $5 work-at-your-own-pace writing workshops where you can create new work as well as fine tune work you’ve already written. Fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction and more, Eckleburg Workshops offer writing prompts and craft techniques that will take your work to the next level. 

Work with a Reedsy Editor for Individualized Attention

Submit your work for developmental editing, line editing, copy editing, editorial assessment and more at Reedsy.com, where hundreds of experienced, awarded writers and editors are ready to read your work and help you make it the best it can be.

Stream of Consciousness Sources