Nanowrimo day 13 – unconscious writing

If you’re still in the contest, you’ll probably find that some writing sessions flow and others are like pulling teeth. I think there’s a good reason for that.

In her book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, Artist Betty Edwards identifies what she calls R-mode.

In R-mode

  • you become absorbed in your work
  • you feel relaxed
  • you’re able to focus on your work without distraction
  • you lose track of time

I’m not sure if it is R-mode (language is supposedly a left brain activity), but if you’ve got this far in Nanowrimo, chances are you’ll have experienced something like this, whatever it is. You don’t know where the words come from, but you can’t get them down fast enough.

If it has happened to you – you might want to figure out why so you can try to repeat it.

Here are two quotes from novelists in Writing Magazine

Henry Porter says:

The stuff you write fastest is usually the stuff you keep. It tends to be fluent.

and Salman Rushdie

When you write, you write out of your best self. Everything else drops away.

If you want to engage with that ‘best self’, doing things differently can help to make that shift:

  • Listen to music (without understandable lyrics) while you write. Use headphones if possible.
  • If you type, try using pen and paper for a change.
  • Write somewhere else – another room, outside, in a cafe.
  • Give yourself 10 minutes and make yourself write without stopping for a second.

And if it does happen to you – I’d love to know.



  1. Something Different We did something really different in school this afternoon. In her Nov.13 blog entry , Debra Broughton mentioned a book entitled Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, by artist Betty Edwards. Check out her website. The Gallery will more than make it worth your time. The course is only four days long, but the difference between the

  2. I agree that there’s times when the writing just flows and also times when I know its better to just stop and do something else.

    I’m embarrassed to say that last night I almost fell asleep in the last part of the writing. At around 02:00, I was on a last sentance which I re-wrote about 10 times. This morning I re-read it and of course it was rubbish, so those 25 words were consigned to the WPB.

    I’m still enjoying the overall experience, however, and the new ‘flash’ profiles on the nano site are starting to make even my extract look half presentable!



  3. I’ve been amazed, not only at how much the writing flows, but also at what I’ve been writing. In many cases, I sit down with only the vaguest beginning of a scene or section and before I know it, I’ve written three or four pages that turn the story in a completely different direction, or that connects with other parts of my story in ways I never imagined. Those are the moments that seem truly magical to me.

  4. I agree with Sharon. Sometimes I sit down and wonder where on earth the ideas are coming from. When key images and motifs start to come together in ways I didn’t initially intend, I can only thank whatever muses are guiding me 🙂

  5. I always listen to music on headphones when I am writing. Understandable lyrics are neither here nor there because I never hear them anyway. The music tunes out what is going on around me, and then I get totally lost in what I am doing, and tune the music out! As many as 13 songs will go by before I notice it again.

    But rashbre… you were supposed to leave your “inner editor” behind at the beginning of the month and NOT rewrite anything during NaNo month! 😉

  6. It would be so hard for me to resist the temptation to rewrite. I’m such a perfectionist and need to find the rhythm to the words to move ahead. That makes the writing move slowly. I just can’t imagine forcing myself to a word deadline, given my style of writing. But then again, it must be so satisfying to amass pages like that within a month!

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