Soundtrack For My Subconscious

My subconscious is a wonderful thing – it gets so much work done while I’m sleeping, relaxing and otherwise taking life easy.

Sometimes my subconscious is dogged and determined. Other times, though, it can be sneaky, devious, erratic… and downright distracting.

But as an author I couldn’t operate without it. However long you’ve been writing there will always be days when you feel your thoughts have turned to treacle. Sometimes it’s the words refusing to flow. Other occasions it’s more fundamental: something in the plot that isn’t or won’t make sense.

Which is when I turn to my subconscious for help. With stories that aren’t coming together my most effective approach is to simply ignore them. It might take hours or days (not often longer) but the solution will suddenly pop into my mind and I know my unsleeping, silent partner has been at work.

But there’s a downside. Sometimes I need to concentrate on what I’m doing. Which is when my subconscious can be damned annoying. There I am, trying to forge the next chapter in my new work and my subconscious is getting BORED!

Half an hour goes by and I suddenly realise I haven’t written a thing but have managed to play several games of cards against the computer, stared vacantly out of the window, shuffled some bits of paper, drawn a new map… you get the picture.

Generally I find the only thing to do is to have some music playing. (It soothes the savage beast!)

I know some people (like my wife) can’t work with music playing. Personally I couldn’t manage without it.

What do you think? Do you need silence to concentrate or do you need soothing classical strains/thumping techno beats to keep your subconscious from bugging you with that ‘let’s do something else’ niggle? (Or am I just showing signs of incipient – or full-blown – schizophrenia?)

NB. If anyone’s got a copy of Thin Ice you’ll get an idea of what I listen to while writing from some of the chapter titles!

Murder mystery for charity

Just a quick mention – The Vault is on free promotion for the next five days (8th – 12th Jan). If you want a free read or just to download a copy and help push me up the Amazon rankings then click on a link:

The Vault on

The Vault on



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7 responses to “Soundtrack For My Subconscious”

  1. Melissa Bowersock (@MJBowersock) says :

    Huw, I’m with you. I actually have music on all day, although I rarely actually hear more than a few songs. Full-blown quiet would be too distracting! I think you’re right, tho–it keeps the subconscious happy. At least it works for me. Thanks for a good post.

  2. thelostgirl3 says :

    To me it really depends on what and or when I’m writing if I can focus with or without music on (also depends on the type of music that is playing in the background).

  3. joelseath says :

    Hi Huw – Quiet,always! Music disturbs the inner workings. (I just downloaded The Vault – just to let you know. Always on the lookout for new reading material).

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  1. Breaking Your Concentration « Huw Thomas - January 24, 2013

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