Blog Post 1: Stream of Consciousness

In Didion’s “Why I Write” many different techniques stuck out to me. The first would be the structure. It seemed sporadic and as though the multitude of images were just running through the reader’s brain at a lightning pace. For example, she explains, “When I talk about pictures in my mind I am talking, quite specifically, about images that shimmer around the edges” and from there rambles into many different ideas, “a cat drawn by a patient in varying stages of schizophrenia” to comparing grammar to playing the piano (“Grammar is a piano I play by ear…”). It was interesting to hear her bring up schizophrenia because at that point of the essay, I was wondering if she did indeed suffer from mental illness.


Her style of writing this article was carefree and had very little connectivity between concepts. What I enjoyed about this is that she seemed to be employing stream of consciousness, which is a way I really enjoy writing, especially for first drafts. I tend to just write everything I can think of, all at once then edit out the parts that don’t make sense later. It’s kind of comparable to word vomit, just type everything that comes to mind and don’t overanalyze your words then later deal with the mess. To me, it seemed like she left the mess, which both annoyed me and was also intriguing. I truly think the essay made complete sense to the author and even though there were points where I was completely lost on what she was trying to say, it had an air of authenticity to the author’s personality. That alone brings up two concepts I do when I write: one, I always have someone read my draft before I finalize it so it is not something only I can understand and relate to, and two, I make a conscious effort to make my personality stand out in any kind of writing whether it be academic or creative.

My favorite quote in her essay was her final line. The essay was hectic and cluttered  and somehow the final line contradicts the previous structure of chaos to neatly validating her central point. She states,”Let me tell you one thing about why writers write: had I known the answer to any of these questions I would have never needed to write a novel” and this is key to any author. I think the wondering and what ifs are what drive most writers to write including myself. If I have an idea for an essay and questions running through my mind, I am motivated to write until the questions have answers.

2 thoughts to “Blog Post 1: Stream of Consciousness”

  1. Hi Allie,
    I really enjoyed reading your blog post and could definitely relate to what you were saying. When reading Didion’s writing, I too felt like it was simply all over the place–it honestly overwhelmed me at first. But, aside from the chaos, there was a clear undertone that she knew what she was trying to see, even if the reader wasn’t quite on her level yet. Your comment about questioning whether she in fact suffered from schizophrenia made me laugh, because until reading that, I never really considered that aspect. Yet now that you point it out, her writing does mimic such cluttered and scrambled trains of thought. But then again, don’t we all do that as writers? Typically when I write, my brain is all over the place and I am flooded with an abundance of different ideas to include. As you mentioned in your blog post though, we are usually trained to remove the clutter before publishing the final draft, which Didion didn’t seem to do here. Overall, I truly enjoyed reading your post and was interested to see that many of the same aspects stood out to us.

  2. Hi Allie (or is there a different spelling you prefer?)!

    I definitely connected with what you were saying about making sure someone else can understand what you were trying to say. I have had sooo many times where I’m sitting with someone reading over my work where they’re like, “What is this even saying?” and I’m there going, “How can you not get what I’m going for, it’s so clear.” It is such a struggle. Articulating yourself and learning how to convey messages and interpret the intentions’ and ideas’ of others can be ridiculously difficult, despite that being the goal of writing and speaking at all for the most part.

    I was also wondering if you could expand at all on one of your final thoughts on that last line– about how it seemed at odds with her chaotic writing structure. I wasn’t sure I understood what you were saying there; was it different because it was such a clear, concise point? Or was it going against what she’d been saying earlier in your eyes? I just wasn’t sure what you meant. I definitely did enjoy that last line and the motivation that it reveals too, though. 🙂

    Lovely thoughts!


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