Getting Water from the Well

This is a guest post from Norma Jean Lutz. Lutz, is an author, speaker, writing instructor, and novel critique consultant. Author of more than 50 published books, she’s been in the writing/publishing industry for more than 30 years. You can visit her website at

Well of Inspiration

I remember a writing instructor who once said that the subconscious mind is like a deep well and most people never bother to either 1) keep the well filled, or 2) bother to learn how to fetch refreshing water from the well.

I’m sure you’ve heard the term “the well of inspiration.” Perhaps you’ve even heard someone remark that the well has gone dry. Perhaps you’ve even said it yourself.

Keep the Well Filled

For most people, going about their everyday lives, the majority of their thinking is in the conscious mind. Much of what is flitting about in the subconscious is ignored, or tamped down, or scoffed at. Novelists, however, cannot afford such luxury. It is in our best interest to understand, appreciate, and respect the subconscious. We must learn how to keep the well filled; we must learn how to get our inspirational water from that well.

Your conscious mind tends to think in linear, logical fashion. First you have A, then comes B, and after that comes C. No so your subconscious. The subconscious mind work in a web-like fashion making random connections that, at first, may not make much sense. This is part of the reason why that information is easy to ignore.

That subconscious mind of yours wants to communicate; however, it’s often misunderstood. And even more, often underestimated. (Might I add undervalued?)

Amazing Things Happen

Let’s say your subconscious wants to say something, but your first response is, “I don’t want to think about that right now.” Or, “I don’t have time to think about that right now.” Now what happens in any relationship when one party ignores the other? The ignored party becomes discouraged and indifferent. That ignored one may even begin to distance from the one who has treated him so shabbily. Once you begin to recognize and respect your own subconscious, amazing things begin to happen.

In order to be super-productive old Mr. Subconscious needs plenty of stimulation. (Filling your well.) This can be books, odd facts, art, insights, new articles, specimens, interesting data, travel, and on and on. My suggestion is that you do this purposefully, and on purpose. Meaning you know what you are doing, and you are expecting results!


From there, you expect the subconscious to think about the issue (problem? dilemma? plot complication?) and work out the solution. You expect to wake up after a good night sleep with little thoughts skittering around in your mind. Grab them, catch them, write them down. Cooperate.

Sleep is wonderful in that it allows your conscious mind to shut up for a while; it gives the subconscious time and space to function as it is designed to function!

This is how you fill the well. This is how you encourage the subconscious to speak. It’s not something you can rush or force. The learning process takes time.

Your Subconscious is Eager

This may never have occurred to you before, but your subconscious is eager to work with you. It only needs permission to be released.

The subconscious is delighted with all the little bits of stimulating information that is sent its way. Likewise, you (your conscious mind) should be just as delighted – and appreciative – for the nuggets of meaning that the subconscious sends your way.

Most often, information from the subconscious comes as a little idea that pops into your mind almost spontaneously. At first it may seem irrelevant, but accept it at face value. Later, you may find it’s more important than the surface structure you are aware of.

But if not – if it never has any relevancy at all, ever – still and yet, you have just succeeded in learning a principle. You are learning how to get water from the well!

It can be the beginning of a great relationship!

If you need a little help with your novel, you might want to consider the workshops that Lutz has to offer.

When writing a novel, the start can be the scariest part! Yours free! Be A Novelist 15-page Writer’s Workshop entitled: Don’t Dilly Dally at the Starting Gate – How to Start Your Novel with a Bang.

Be A Novelist, Six-Month, Finish-My-Novel Challenge!

Are you one of those budding novelists who makes a great start but you can’t seem to finish? Then this is for you! Be A Novelist, Six-Month, Finish-My-Novel Challenge! Six full months of guidance and instruction. Guaranteed to light a fire under your novel-writing attempts!


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