I am not knowledgeable about brain function or the neurological mechanisms that create thoughts and ideas. I do believe that a lot of my thinking is not conscious. I believe am not aware of a great deal of my belief. This is a strange idea that I took a long time coming to.
I am vaguely aware that certain parts of the brain don’t communicate with each other well or at all. An example of this is that I will often talk to my wife about an idea or a problem that is puzzling me. Because my wife knows me very well, she understands that I’m not talking to her. What is going on is the part of my brain that runs my mouth doesn’t have a direct connection with the parts of my brain connected to my ears. One part can talk, the other part can hear but they don’t have a direct connection. Or maybe the bit with the ears can send a direct message to the bit in control of the mouth but the part that controls the mouth can only use the mouth to talk to the part that has ears. The one part is talking to the other part, not my wife, and trying to collaborate so they can come to some conclusion because the two are smarter than either one by itself.
Ever say something that immediately sounds stupid once you say it aloud but seemed perfectly reasonable before you said it? I think that is this phenomenon of one part of the brain not able to have a direct conversation with that other part of the brain.
This is one of the reasons I write. It is a way for the various bits of my mind that can’t communicate directly to communicate indirectly. I also read my writing aloud to myself when I’m editing. I find this to be helpful. Something that looked right when I wrote it, sounds wrong when I say it. Some magic happens and I can then look at it properly and fix it. I think it is the phenomenon that happens when you hear a writer say they were surprised by what a character did in their story. This seems very strange to a person who has never written fiction before. It’s the writer’s story. They are the one deciding what a character does. How can they be surprised by it? They are surprised because the character comes from that part of the brain we have no conscious awareness of. It can communicate with the conscious functions to make the hands tap the right keys but it can’t tell the conscious part of the brain the story. This makes the whole thing seem like mystery. The muse lives in that part of the brain. We think it’s something that exists outside of our brains and then drops in to tell us the story.
It’s a strange thing but I find it helpful to think about the parts of the brain communicating to each other by speaking or writing. One part is tell the other parts the story that’s its been working on. The story teller just has to relax long enough to let the story come out. Then the conscious part of the brain takes a look and can polish what the more conceptual and creative part has presented.