A lot of people are afraid to start writing because they feel like it's too difficult or they won't be able to think of anything to say. A good way to start getting over this fear is writing streams of consciousness. According to a writershistory.com article, the phrase 'stream of consciousness' was first coined by a psychologist named William James in his work 'Principles of Psychology.' Streams of consciousness are described in this text as having a disregard for standardized grammar and punctuation rules, and attempts to incorporate all influences on a person's (or character's) thought process.
As a writing practice, streams of consciousness don't have to be about any specific thing--you just write about whatever comes to your mind. There aren't really any rules, because this is just for you to read, not for others. Here are some things to remember as you write your stream of consciousness:
- It's not going to be 100% coherent. There may be some thoughts that go together, but for the most part it probably won't make a whole lot of sense. Don't worry about it, that's how it's actually supposed to be.
- You're not writing a story. Sure, there may be inspiration for a story somewhere in there, but that's not the ultimate point of a stream of consciousness. Focus on writing whatever comes to mind, regardless of how strange it may sound.
The real reason for writing a stream of consciousness is to get you in the practice of writing something, and to get yourself comfortable with letting your thought flow freely without putting every single one through the self-criticism filter. One other note: writing a stream of consciousness is or can be a form of journaling, but not all journaling has to be in the form of a stream of consciousness. If streams of consciousness are too much for you right now, try another form of journaling and maybe work your way up to it. Not all forms of writing are right for everyone.