Posted in Of Psyche, Of Writingly

Of Assimilation in Writing


The more I write, the more I find I am a writer of assimilation rather than research. I have to do various kinds of writing, for both work and play, and I find, even for when research is required, it is still better for me to write from assimilation than precise information. But, what do I mean by assimilation? A more literal form, and a highly regarded literary technique, of such writing is what is known as stream-of-consciousness. A psychological term created by William James in 1890, writers who write in this genre seek to replicate the stream-like thought processes of their principal characters in their novels. I don’t create characters in that manner, but I do let my own stream guide me, at least through the first draft. I assimilate my thoughts and experiences in life, and then pick and choose what comes first and feels relevant. Quite a simple and freeing concept really, but not generally encouraged.

Which really makes me wonder why. It is generally agreed that order, discipline, organization, whatever you call it, makes us a more efficient and productive species. Free-forms are okay for fun, but never as a full-time way of life. Which, I actually agree with. I’ve never been a hippie-in-mind. If I saw a rainbow while forming a queue in school, I wouldn’t go after it but promptly follow the queue. I’d only remember the intrigue, the denial, and not getting to savour the opportunity. It isn’t anything I would encourage but, that is the way it has been. That is also how I feel about poetry, and things that maybe termed poetic. My prose writing comes from trying to escape the dreadful prose of my life. There are many writers who do this, and they all do it better than me. Anthony Trollope, as you may know, was famous for the order he maintained in his writing practice. Here we are, talking about muses and inspiration and passion and all manner of things that romanticize writing. And here was a man who wrote for a stipulated period of time everyday, never blanked out or pondered too hard over something. If he finished a novel and there’s still time left, he’d promptly start a new one.

And I bet you and I could do that if we only get assimilation to govern our creative process. You see, this seeming free-form can actually make order a lot easier to achieve. Even if you have to write about something you have not much interest in, you could still jot something down. Even something along the lines of why you are ignorant about it. I remember writing this essay on something to do with evolution for my Biology exam in school. Of course, I made the whole thing up. I’ve never found out why I got full marks on it ( and no, I’m sure I don’t have any hidden talent in Evolutionary Biology) but I’ve found that there is merit in developing this skill of trying to say something about something you apparently know nothing about.

The imagination isn’t all dragons and fairies, which is usually how we see it. It is the melting pot of the culture you assimilate in your life, where there are things for you to pick and choose, possibly buy, as you would in a fairground. Things can look so pretty on display in it ( i.e. when you daydream ), it can show you a perfect world which can be as complex or as simple as you want it to be. There are people who say, “you know more than you think you know.” I’ve never found this idea comforting. Because, it really isn’t about knowledge. The thing about intelligence is, it is best shown through subtlety. Not when you put on an intelligent face and spit out a torrent of information for the person at the other end. That is a quality not even desirable in college professors. It is when you can glide and dance over things, pack so much in something that looks so light, so reachable. A bit like Mozart, who could pack in “ too many notes” in his music and yet have an ease in how he communicated them. By the way, he too was a regular, untortured creator like Trollope.

There is definitely much room for improvement in the writing/creating that we mere mortals do. But, that doesn’t mean we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment. When you approach your writing environment – desk, laptop, phone – you do not want to be burdened with the idea of not knowing enough. You just want to get there, let it all come out, and then, when it is separate from you, you may begin your duty of finding ease in it.


Writer, Blogger, Kate Bush Fanatic

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