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The Creative Unconscious Self: The Source Of Our Creativity

By James Bonnet

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“There are four great secrets hidden in this work. And this is the first: The author of the great myths and legends is inside you. And I don't mean that figuratively, I mean it literally. The intelligence and wisdom that created those old, great stories is inside you.”
Stealing Fire From the Gods

In the quote, of course, I am talking about the creative unconscious self. If you haven’t already read the five sample chapters from my book, which are now on my website, they contain an excellent introduction to the creative unconscious and reveal, among other things, how it participates in the creation of great stories, novels and films.

That said – let us begin our study with a review of this extraordinary phenomenon.

We traveled an evolutionary path. A record of this evolutionary path has been kept and is buried deep in the unconscious like a treasure. I call that treasure the creative unconscious. I also call it the hidden truth or the self. But it goes by a lot of other names. Some people call it the muse, the source, the higher guide, or the God within. Carl Jung called it the collective unconscious. George Lucas in Star Wars called the positive aspect The Force and the negative aspect The Dark Side.
”Whatever it is, or whatever you call it, doesn't matter. It is the creative unconscious source of all of the higher, universal intelligence, hidden wisdom and truth we possess. It plays a major role in storymaking and it plays a major role in our lives”
Stealing Fire From the Gods
This hidden wisdom is probably stored in the DNA, and the creative unconscious may be a manifestation of the DNA itself. And when it is projected outside of ourselves, it becomes the one God of the three Abrahamic religions or the collection of gods in the classical Greek and Hindu pantheons.
The creative unconscious self, then, is the sum total of all of the knowledge and wisdom that has been accumulating in our psyches since the beginning of evolution. And one of its primary objectives, according to Story, is to guide us through, and help us realize, the physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual stages of our development which were achieved at an earlier time during our evolutionary history. Our physical development is more or less intact, and it is fairly obvious that the physical changes we undergo in the womb from conception to birth and in the outside world through all of the stages of our infancy, childhood, youth, adulthood, middle-age, and old age are stages of physical development that were previously achieved by our species during its long evolutionary journey. (In one early stage in the womb we look like tadpoles, in another we have tails.)

Well, according to Story (and when I use the term Story with a capital “S,” I mean the collective wisdom being revealed by all great stories when taken together) we also went through a comparable emotional, psychological, and spiritual development during this evolutionary sojourn. But these dimensions have been seriously compromised and, along with our ability to communicate effectively with our creative unconscious selves, are not being properly realized or expressed in our current dog-eat-dog world. In fact, they are being repressed. These lost and unrealized emotional, psychological and spiritual dimensions constitute our vast potential and our unrealized higher states of consciousness.
All of this is revealed in Story -- as we will begin to see in the next article.

The creative unconscious self, which contains a record of all of this, has the power and the desire to help us recover this lost unrealized potential. But we have to participate and play the role we were meant to play in this process. Story shows us how to do that.

Achieving these passages will transform the vast reserve of unconscious potential energy into a useful conscious energy – in short, to a full realization of our selves. This process expands, strengthens and elevates consciousness. It is what higher consciousness, enlightenment, and maturity are all about.
“...and when creative people say they have tapped into the source, this is what they mean. This is the source.”
Stealing Fire From the Gods
Another important objective of the creative unconscious is the creation of great stories, which occurs because it governs the positive and negative intuitive feelings that influence our creative decisions.  And so bit by bit the hidden structures, archetypal characters, and extraordinary wisdom are programmed into our stories. All of which makes great stories one of the key ways that the creative unconscious communicates the details of these passages to us. And when this occurs, you get a story with incredible power.

In any event, if you're not already in touch with that source, you soon can be -- and you can make that precious knowledge and the power that goes with it come alive in your novels and screenplays.
“And, if you combine that power with a contemporary realism and character, you can create superpowerful stories that have a significant impact on the world. And you can make yourself very successful and perhaps even whole in the process”
Stealing Fire From the Gods
Which is to say, there are some extraordinary psychological benefits to be had from the creative storymaking process. 

In my next story course article:  The Secret Language of Great Stories, I will talk about the characters, actions and events that create the metaphors that reveal the hidden structures and the details of the passages – which in turn reveal the extraordinary things the great stories are telling us about ourselves. Which is to say, if you support the things you really want to write about with these remarkable hidden structures, which are nothing less than a blueprint of our evolutionary accomplishments, amazing things can happen to your stories and your life.

About James Bonnet

James Bonnet is an internationally known writer, teacher and story consultant. He has been a professional writer for more than 40 years. He started out as an actor in the Tony Award winning hit Broadway show, Sunrise at Campobello. He landed his first professional writing job when he was 23, writing for a television series called It’s A Man’s World. He was elected twice to the Board of Directors of the Writer's Guild of America and has written or acted in more than forty television shows and features. The important  new ideas about story in his book Stealing Fire from the Gods: The Complete Guide to Story For Writers And Filmmakers are having a major impact on writers in all media. In his forthcoming book, Cracking the Story Code: The Hidden Structures in Great Stories and What They Mean, he will thoroughly analyze fifty of the world’s greatest stories and the extraordinary secrets they reveal about ourselves and our evolutionary path.  Learn more at

Screenwriting Article by James Bonnet

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