Stream of consciousness, or free writing, is a style in which you are more or less trying to apply thoughts and ideas to a more concrete form. This can be a useful tool for those that feel as though they are not writing enough in that it separates the need to come up with material there on the spot and handles all ideas as equal. Stream of consciousness can be really good in that distractions like word correction and punctuation is not important.
When talking about this subject, I want you to take into consideration that this will be slightly modified from what authors like Virginia Woolf and James Joyce did. Mainly because the purpose of joke writing is to get a joke. Thoughts and feelings can be taking into account, but the entire idea is to create something that is funny. The purpose of using this writing style is to get the idea out, not to recite the finished product immediately after writing it. So lets go into the steps, and remember, modify these to your liking.
In order to get the most of this style, you will likely have to set aside a time (and probably a place) in which you can sit down and focus on writing for a set period of time. When I am looking to do this, I sit down for about 20-30 minutes a day for say, a week. Then the first thing that comes to mind you start writing. This can be hard because most of us write in a way that we close out parts that are either too weird or not in our usual style of joke telling. It will take some getting used to, but once you get over that mental obstacle, you can then freely write.
The next part is taking this funny ore, if you will, and turn it into funny gold (and yes, I am proud of that turn there). After you are done writing, it is time to start going through and seeing if there is anything you can turn into a joke. This sounds hard, but after the first few times, you will get good and seeing where you brain popped out something funny. Once you have found that thing, you can now try to shape it into a joke. It may be best to try it out on stage. That way you can see the extra you can shave off of the material to get a stronger joke. I like to read it a couple of times and then cut pieces that may not be all that important to getting the joke. I will then get on a stage and try it a few times. This is to see if it is consistently funny or something that is very situational.
Before ending, I want to say that this isn’t to replace other ways you go about writing material. This is a tool that should be used when you feel stuck, or haven’t written in awhile. There will also be times when even this may not help generate jokes. That is natural, but your job as a joke writer is to write. So get to it, and I hope you come up with your next great joke!