Stream of Consciousness Writing

Writers: Yvonne, Jenny, Liane, Danielle

Stream of Consciousness Writing

On Saturday I (Karen Tyrrell) presented a stream of consciousness writing workshop for my Brisbane writing buddies at Write Links (a sub group of Book Links).

Karen Tyrrell presenter at Write Links

Who inspired me to write via stream of consciousness?

In February, Karen Foxlee spoke at Write Links, sharing how stream of consciousness helped her to create New York seller, Lenny’s Book of Everything.

She expressed the heart of Lenny, by connecting with her memories, hopes, fears and dreams.

Karen Foxlee Author

Stream of consciousness helps me to write my quirky junior fiction novels, Song Bird Superhero series and my WIP.

Tapping into my character’s inner monologue, helps to create strong emotions, thoughts and dialogue, spliced with humour.

What’s stream of consciousness writing?

Stream of consciousness writing happens when you close your eyes, envisage your setting, character and story, tapping into the subconscious.

You pen-write quickly without pausing, without editing.

What’s Write Links?

Write Links is a face to face group of Brisbane children’s writers of picture books, junior novels and YA. Each month, Write Links members enjoy writer’s activation sessions co-ordinated by Yvonne Mes.

Yvonne Mes Co-ordinator of Write Links

This month, I presented my workshop Build a Castle.

 How do I present Build A Castle workshop?

I read out short guided writing instructions for participants to visualize and then write.

First, I ask writers to choose a setting from a list of 12.

How did I present the stream of consciousness writing workshop?

STEP 1  I request writers to close their eyes and place their hands flat on the table or on their knees. ‘Now, picture yourself, or a character/ hero/ villain standing in for you, in the setting you have chosen. Concentrate on YOUR surroundings, but don’t try to imagine anything. Just let the environment fade in around you.’

When you can SEE your environment, open your eyes.

STEP 2 ‘Without pausing to think, write exactly what you saw. Aim for 4 sentences or more.

We continued, going back into the same environment, eyes closed. Next, we visualize a hidden object coming into view.

‘When you SEE it, open your eyes and write down what it looks like.’

STEP 3 Eyes closed, step back into the environment, this time a living thing comes into view. Write down what you see.

STEP 4 Behind you is a reflective surface (water, glass, mirror, metal). Look at “YOUR” Reflection.

Pause to consider the mood of the environment. Happy?  Fearful? Peaceful? Uneasy?

When you see how “you” LOOK, and know how “you” FEEL, open your eyes.

Without pause for thought, write down what you saw.

STEP 5 This time, “SEE” it as a movie set. “You” are there, so is the inanimate object AND a living creature. A voice calls “ACTION!” The scene comes to life. See what happens.

Open your eyes, and write down the ACTION you just witnessed.

STEP 6: I invited them to expand their writing by asking themselves the 5 W’s questions. I suggested they read, edit and expand their writing to create a story or a book.

What did my Write Links buddies write?


Trees reached for the sky, sunlight streaming through, scattered by leaves. Lacey fern fronds gently brushed my face as I scurried around the forest floor. The sweet smell of decaying undergrowth filled the air. Moisture settled and droplets formed, splashing into the stream. — Sandy Driessens writer

Special Object

The broken carcass of a ship lays resting against the rocks to the left. Half in the water and half out. A gaping hole in the side shows the reason for this wreckage. Paint flecks of green and white outline the recent hole and the sail lays, smashed and scattered, on the deck.

Sophia Evans writer

Writers Sophia Evans (blue), Inda Ahmad Zabri (orange), Sandy Driessens (glasses)

Living Thing.

A pigeon walks up from behind the puppet. It looks happy and this-is-my-domain cocky.

It’s a common sort of street pigeon, with a ring around one of its paws and missing a toe.

Unlike the other pigeons it seems to have a sense of purpose, not pecking around looking for scraps, instead it strides confidently. – Yvonne Mes Writer & illustrator

Illustrated by Yvonne Mes

Main Character

My reflection in the castle’s window shows a pointed face accentuated by a long tapering beard. My hair falls limp and straight past my ears and neck to my shoulders. It blows in the breeze, once dark but now peppered with grey. Veins stand out on my face. Would people trust me?

Not with the thick black snake lying across my arms and shoulders. I find a bush along the castle wall, and direct it to hide — Tyrion Perkins writer


‘I found your exercise so helpful that it gave me the idea to develop into a short story.’

Inda Ahmad Zabri writer

 How does stream of consciousness develop your writing?

  1. Taps into your imagination through visualization
  2. Creates flow and confidence in your writing
  3. Connects you to your character’s feelings, thoughts, dialogue and action
  4. Activates writing a new story or novel
  5. Present stream of consciousness writing to children to develop their imagination.

 Who is  Blog writer- Karen Tyrrell Author?

Karen Tyrrell is an award-winning author of twelve empowering books to help kids live strong. She presents writing workshops for schools, libraries, festivals and conferences.  You can book Karen via agents Speakers Ink, Greenleaf Press or Creative Speakers Net.

Karen Tyrrell with Tyrion Perkins & Anna Byrd

How has stream of consciousness helped your writing?

Please comment below, LIKE and share on your networks. 🙂


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8 comments to Stream of Consciousness Writing

  • Heather Grant

    Marvellous article Karen, as a part time writer I’ve always structured everything in advance often leading to a brain block. I love the concept of stream of consciousness writing and will try it this weekend. So many good ideas thank you for sharing.

  • Hi Heather, Lovely to hear from you. You’ll be surprised how much, and how deep you’ll be able to write using this method.
    Happy Writing, Karen 🙂

  • I do stream of consciousness writing all the time, but without the wonderful structure you’ve laid out above. It is so good to hear this. I usually go for ten minutes, as per Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way book set out. Unfortunately, I have a condition called Aphantasia, were I can not see pictures in my head at all, or colours, or even outlines. The words always come but the only pics I see with my eyes closed are when I’m asleep and dreaming. Because of the condition, I find dreams so realistic I’m convinced they really happen. I have a big enough imagination that it doesn’t matter and stream of consciousness is an excellent vehicle for writing, but I can’t really visualise anything at all. I wish I could. Thanks so much for the above example; it is clear, wonderful and well directed. I only wished I lived near Brisbane to attend a real workshop of yours. I’ve been doing SOC writing for almost 20 years and something startling and unexpected usually comes out of it. Also crap can come from it. SOC is relaxing and meditating, but that’s okay, I don’t really miss what I have never had. Thanks again Karen- you’re awesome.

  • Hi Therese,
    Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with SOC. I haven’t heard of your condition, Aphantasia before.
    Thrilled you can adapt, and SOC can give you the words to your stories.
    We all have our weaknesses, all of us. Its wonderful to discover another pathway to achieve our goals.
    happy Writing,
    Karen 🙂

  • Great post, Karen, about a wonderful technique to get the creative juices flowing – sorry I missed it.

  • Leslee Anne Hewson

    I enjoyed reading your post, Karen. My experiences line up with Therese’s although I didn’t know there was a name for it. I don’t see anything but blackness with my eyes shut. I’ve always got words and thoughts and never an image although the thought might describe an image if that makes sense. In a show of hands at another meeting years ago about 30% of the people present also had the same result of only darkness with eyes closed, so it seems to be different for lots of people. As Therese says you don’t miss what you’ve never had I guess. Thanks for sharing.

  • Hi Norah, Thanks for dropping in. I loved presenting the writing workshop and hearing writers positive feedback on how its helped them. I’m actually tapping into my subsconscious first thing in the morning to write my novel by hand … Cheers, Karen 🙂

  • Hi Leslee,
    Lovely to read your comment here and discover how you tap into Stream of Consciousness, like Therese, very interesting. Glad you receive the words and thoughts.
    For me, I get images and actions of the main character with their thoughts and dialogue.
    Karen 🙂

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