Who’s Minding Your Wild Mind?

Who's Minding Your Wild Mind

George Takei says: “It is in those moments when our minds are clutter-free that true inspiration awakens.”

True inspiration:  If you create… if you’re an artist, a poet, a photographer, a programmer, a composer, a musician, etc… you know true inspiration is instinctual, intuitive, primeval; it’s what Freud called the unconscious, what Carl Jung called the collective unconscious, and what writers and others call Wild Mind.

I sometimes think of Wild Mind as sort of an un-state of mind. I know I’ve reached this state when my first drafts basically write themselves. And there’s the rub: the story ideas roaming around inside my cluttered conscious mind usually go nowhere.

Good Story Ideas I’ll (probably) never write:

Shaky Road – An unhappy couple take a long road trip.

Idea Guy – Sort of ironic, eh?

Scenes From an Apartment – Can’t remember (:

Below are some of the stories that came from – or at some point were taken over by – my cluttered conscious mind where my idea of the story took the reins, making sure the story followed what I thought/wanted it to be.

I’ve already written and rewritten these stories many times, and they still don’t work.

Stories from Good Ideas That Still Don’t Work:

Madison’s Absence – A man’s out of body experience.

We’re Not Them – A pregnant woman’s paranoia her baby will be born mentally ill.

How She Will Live – A cautious woman who finds herself single and suddenly in lust.

Bottom line, I’ve learned it’s okay to get your conscious mind (where you inner editor lives) involved when you’re critiquing your creation and when you’re re-working it. And let’s face it, we could all use a good editor!

But hard knocks have taught me that your first draft/sketch/form should come from your instinctive, intuitive Wild Mind, the seat of your originality.

Your inner editor might not like it, but your creations definitely will. But enough about me. How do you get to your Wild Mind? Music? A photo? Meditation? Doodling?

Three Days of Drinkin’

BettyBras Musical InspirationCompliments of Guest Blogger The Oldest Living Middle-Aged Writer

The lyrics to some songs have helped my writing. Not copying the lyrics into a story, but using the poetry and tempo as inspiration that energized my next writing project.

For instance, I love the song from the Sopranos TV series – “Woke up this Morning” by A3. The beginning of the song features a spoken track:

And after three days of drinkin’ with Larry Love

                  I just get an inklin’ to go on home

                  So I’m walkin’ down Coldharbour Lane

                  Head hung low, three or four in the mornin’

                  The sun’s comin’ up and the birds are out singing

                  I let myself into my pad

                  Wind myself up that spiral staircase

                  An’ stretch out nice on the chesterfield

It goes on for a while before the refrain “Woke up this mornin’/Got yourself a gun.”

With the visual in my head of the man shuffling down the street just before sunrise and the moody rhythm in the background, I begin my story of this man getting shot in a drive-by on a warm summer Chicago morning. I can see the car low to the ground, the bass turned up and pulsing to the song’s refrain as it slowly and deliberately approaches. The left rear window slides down. The muzzle of a gun sparks in a bright red ring followed a millisecond later by smoke and sound. The man sitting at the bus stop, head hung low, slides off the bench. The car moves on down the street as the sun peeks over the liquor store sign. The birds stop singing.

Another song that I feel has a compelling story is “Streets of Philadelphia” sung by Bruce Springsteen:

I was bruised and battered and I couldn’t tell

                  What I felt

                  I was unrecognizable to myself

                  I saw my reflection in a window I didn’t know

                  My own face

                  Oh brother are you gonna leave me

                  Wastin’ away

                  On the streets of Philadelphia

Listening to the mournful refrain in the background, I can imagine a homeless man catching a glimpse of himself in a store window and realizing with startling clarity that he is unrecognizable to himself. And he suddenly can’t breathe, his heart filled with overwhelming regret and remorse. He falls to his knees and cries, his head bowed, his hands useless. He collapses onto the broken concrete.

What song or songs speak to you? Have you followed a song’s words and music into a place in your writing you have yet to explore? Did you allow your imagination to do the work, and maybe found a story in your head you didn’t even know was there?

As for me, I might also try three days of drinkin’….


The Oldest Living Middle-Aged Writer (aka Pat Childers) lives in Midwestern flyover country with her dogs. There have been reported sightings of her husband. In between innings of the Cubs game she works on her novel.