"I was told that if I didn’t learn technique, I would be in trouble later on when the inspiration had gone and the technique was needed to compensate. If I hadn’t learned that in time, I would not now be able to outline a structure in advance." – Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Paris Review Interview

A student of mine recently articulated in workshop one of the central dilemmas of a creative writing pedagogy, or any arts pedagogy: Does the conscious study of an art form contribute to the improvement of  a largely subconscious creative process? It seems clear that the study of concepts underlying dramatic composition will not necessary lead a writer to penning a brilliant novel. It also seems clear to me that the conscious mind is capable of paralyzing the subconscious mind for extended periods of time, if the writer is not aware of its sometimes dictatorial powers.

I believe in the primacy of the subconscious mind when writing. Robert Olen Butler notes that you can't think your way to great novel, or even a particularly good one. Only the subconscious mind is capable of making the indirect connections that surprise, so necessary to literary composition. If you find that the process of studying creative writing interferes with your subconscious creative process, then put aside your studies for a time and just write.

The study of dramatic structure is most effective when a writer internalizes the concepts and then mostly forgets them when writing a first draft. Don't think too much when composing fiction. Instead, find your writing zone and lose yourself in the delight of creating worlds. The next day, review what you wrote the day before, and apply some of the concepts you’ve been studying. The first draft belongs mostly to the subconscious. In revisions, the lead in the pas-de-deux between the conscious and subconscious minds shifts to the editorial mind. Much of what you consciously learn will help you to become a better editor. Writers need good editors, and the study of literary and dramatic construction helps a writer become her own best editor.