Use this technique for: when you’re feeling stuck about something.
Starting point: when you sit down to do it.
Ending point: when you feel ready to take action.
So I’ve got a Maker’s Mark and cola and I’m trying to figure out what to do next. With any of it. With all of it.
Most free writing involves starting with absolutely nothing in mind other than the determination to kill time, fill pages or clear your head. The Sub-C Session is slightly different because it is writing that is about something in particular and intended to come up with some kind of solution.
Sub-C is my odd little abbreviation for subconscious. How the subconscious is precisely defined (and indeed whether or not it even exists) is still being debated. For the purposes of this exercise, we’ll define it something like this—the part of your mind that rarely articulates its intentions in conscious thoughts but primarily communicates through emotional states.
(If you think this definition is a load of hooey, well, just pretend that it’s true while you try this out. You’re not the center of the universe, either, and you were okay with acting as if you were during the Shit Book exercise, right?)
A Sub-C Session should be done in a relatively non-distracting environment. You can set aside a specific notebook or just grab whatever’s handy. I recommend that at the very least you have a reliable pen on hand, or use a computer, since it may take a lot of ramble to get to the conclusion.
Sub-C Sessions generally spring from a question. It can almost be like consulting an oracle. Why am I spending so much time on the Internet? Why am I still upset about what was said at dinner last week? Why have I still not returned that phone call? What’s stopping me from doing this thing I really want to do? Any kind of mental block that you have on something can be examined with a Sub-C Session.
You don’t necessarily have to write down the question, just sit down with the question in your mind and begin writing. Brainstorm possible answers and write down your reactions to these answers. You may find out that really stupid reasons will come up. This is completely okay. It’s by dragging these absurd notions into the light that we can deal with them properly.
A Sub-C Session can end whenever you feel like it. Usually the signal that you’ve finished a Sub-C Session is that you’ve come up with some workable answers to your question. If you do a Sub-C Session about something that you don’t want to do, you may find that once you’ve dug up and dissected the reasons for your reluctance you’ll be ready to get off your duff and do something about it. At which point, put down the pen and get on with it.
A revised version of this entry can be found in the ebook Catbooks and Other Methods.