4 Levels of Awareness and What It Teaches Us About the Art of Writing at All Stages


Intuitive writing with all its flaws is a crucial part of a writer’s journey. You are writing with an impulse. Out of a necessity. You take fingers to keypad, pen to paper, and let your feeling take off with your words. It is a blissful state of being.

This where your writing evolves from 4 stages of awareness. These 4 stages are beautifully described by Anthony Wellington’s “Four Levels of Awareness” for a musician.

From Victor Wooten: Groove Workshop:

“First level is what I like to call unconscious not knowing. That is when you don’t know what it is. You don’t know. Ignorance. But not ignorance in a bad way. Not like children-are-ignorant-to-world-crisis that kind of thing. It is a blissful state. Also you can think of playing air guitar. You have never seen anybody play air guitar without smiling. It’s the same thing. So for me the first level awareness is Unconscious Not Knowing. It’s like when a kid gets his first guitar bass for Christmas. He is just standing in the mirror with his strap on, he is not really worried about notes he is playing. He is just looking in the mirror and smiling. Then after that they have the bass for couple of months or weeks they sign up for lessons and the instructor starts pointing out things they don’t know.

And into that next level of awareness is what I call Conscious Not Knowing. Now you have been aware of everything you don’t know. That is not a blissful state. Many of the musician hobbyists never get past this level. But people who tread on, they reach that level called Conscious Knowing. That is when you are very aware of why you are doing it. This the area where most good musicians stay. That is also not a blissful state.

(Then there is) this fourth level of awareness what I call Unconscious Knowing. That is when you know something, you know so well, that you don’t have to think about it. It is just ingrained. It is intuitive. That’s that level of awareness of where people like Victor (great musicians) reside. That is a blissful state.”

In the journey of progressing from incompetence to competence in a skill, the Conscious Competence Learning model covers the four stages of competence and about the state of mind engaged.

The four stages of competence

  1. Unconscious incompetence
    The individual does not understand or know how to do something and does not necessarily recognize the deficit. They may deny the usefulness of the skill. The individual must recognize their own incompetence, and the value of the new skill, before moving on to the next stage.The length of time an individual spends in this stage depends on the strength of the stimulus to learn.
  2. Conscious incompetence
    Though the individual does not understand or know how to do something, he or she does recognize the deficit, as well as the value of a new skill in addressing the deficit. The making of mistakes can be integral to the learning process at this stage.
  3. Conscious competence
    The individual understands or knows how to do something. However, demonstrating the skill or knowledge requires concentration. It may be broken down into steps, and there is heavy conscious involvement in executing the new skill.
  4. Unconscious competence
    The individual has had so much practice with a skill that it has become “second nature” and can be performed easily. As a result, the skill can be performed while executing another task. The individual may be able to teach it to others, depending upon how and when it was learned.

So when you get out of that first level of blissful unawareness to that Unconscious Knowing stage, you have mastered the rules of grammar, composition, to an extend where these rules have auto tuned themselves to the very fabric of your thought, not interfering with your creative writing process.

The only way to  get to that blissful stage of writing is to get all the way through. 

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