Life is a beach. The waves lap the shore. The winds blow, sometimes off shore, sometimes on shore. Some days are sunny, other days the storms roll in.
Beaches can be treacherous places. There is more to swimming at beaches than what appears on the surface of the water. There are rips, currents and undertows. Swimmers ignore these powerful forces at their peril.
We don’t know if Enid Blyton was a swimmer. However, she did understand the rips, currents and undertows whirling around in her subconscious. She called this her “undermind”.
By any measuring stick, she was a prodigious writer. In her career she wrote more than three hundred books. She started various children’s clubs, supporting charities. At one point her clubs had more than 500,000 members.
Her characters became household names – Noddy, Big Ears, The Famous Five, The Magic Faraway Tree, The Five Findouters, The Secret Seven, St Clare’s.
The Sunday Times included her in its “1000 makers of the 20th Century” because of the impact her books had on children right around the world.
It wasn’t always sunny weather on . Enid Blyton’s “beach” though.
Many adults hated her books. In the 60s and 70s, some teachers and librarians fought to have her work banned. Libraries took her books off the shelves.
Schools barred students from bringing her books to class.
She was accused of creating characters that were sexist, racist, one-dimensional, selfish, egotistical and class conscious.
In all this, someone forgot to tell the kids.
Children lapped up her stories. Her sales boomed with all the extra publicity.
So while the storm clouds continued to roll over head, Enid went on writing. So prodigious was Enid Blyton’s output that some critics accused her of being a syndicate.
“No one could produce so many books so quickly” they argued, “so there must be a committee or a group writing these books.” Not so!
Enid had discovered an amazing way to be so productive. It was the source of all her stories. She employed her undertow. Her undermind.
Enid never had to work at inspiration or ideas. If she had to write a new book with new characters she would give her mind a task- write a 40,000 word adventure book. She would then send that thought to her undermind, letting it simmer for a while.
Then, when it came time to write the story, she would sit quietly with her typewriter for several minutes. She would allow her mind to go blank.
Then as she typed, the story would unfold. The characters would come alive. She never knew what was going to come next or how the story would pan out.
“I don’t pretend to understand this. To write book after book without knowing what is going to be said or done sounds silly. Yet it happens. “
Sometimes a character makes a joke, a really funny joke, one that makes me laugh as I type on my paper. I think, “Well, I couldn’t have thought of that myself in a hundred years! And then I think, Well who did think of that?”
Yet when she tried to create ideas at a conscious level, she struggled like the rest of us. If she tried to write poetry without the assistance of her undermind she found she had to “work hard over it.”
Call it what you like – undermind, subconscious, imagination. Whatever the name you give it, it is still the same – a powerful ally. If you feel you are swimming against the tide, making no progress, bereft of ideas, then it might be time to bring your undermind into play.
Enid never understood her undermind. She knew how to turn it on.
“For instance, I have been instructed to write a book which will deal with a scouts or scouts, with kindness to animals and with a definite religious thread going through it. No more instructions than that.”
Now the ordinary writer would begin to think consciously about the book, plans would take shape in their mind. They would arrange a scheme and so on, then writing the book according to what had been consciously planned.
“All I have done is to say firmly to myself – there must be scouts, animals and ethics and I leave it at that and don’t think another word about it. But these conscious directions penetrate down into the imagination and when, on Monday, I sit down to begin the book, it will already be complete in my imagination – characters, setting, animals, everything. No thought or planning will have gone into the book – it will well up spontaneously and rhythmically, suited for the particular age of child, and will be the right length.”
Try it yourself. Give full rein to your undermind. Be pleasantly and productively surprised.
© 2019 well imagine that pty/ltd