Part 2 of 2 6 Factors of Mindful Writing: How Mindfulness can be a Game Changer
Changing your writing game
Mindfulness applied to your writing projects can be a game changer for you if you’re struggling to get past writers block, lack of creativity, and frustration.
In Part 1 we looked at what mindfulness is and why you need it. Now let’s see how you can apply mindfulness to your writing. Hopefully in Part 1 you discovered what’s holding you back from being the writer you want to be. If you missed Part 1 click here to check it out!
1. External stimulus – Environment
The most glaring factor impacting the writing process is all the noise and distraction going on around you. The first step to writing mindfully is simply shutting off all the distractions.
Easier said than done!
Yes, it’s no easy task to completely eliminate all the distractions that might be presenting themselves. You can’t turn your K9 buddy off! He or she wants attention and a good belly rub. You can’t avoid that of course.
But you can turn off the TV, radio, and wifi. Take a few moments to assess the situation in your living or work space. Where can you work with the fewest distractions? Writing in your living room may not be as good as a quiet bedroom where you can close the door and work in peace.
Create your own mindful space
It can also be worth spending some time creating a mindful space. Arranging a desk or work area in the spare bedroom is just one great idea. Include as little distraction as possible. Think minimal. If complete solitude is too much some ambient music to set the tone can aid just as well as complete silence. The idea is that it shouldn’t be distracting.
Mental and emotional distractions are the most difficult to overcome. This is what the practice of meditation is about, letting thoughts and other internal distractions go. From the Buddhist path we learn that all the stuff rattling around in your head is mostlyjust deluding you and preventing you from living well.
Thought is clearly important to living and getting through the day but how many of your thoughts are truly important? How much of your thoughts are daydreams, needless analysis, judgments, and emotions about things that have no real value for you?
It will pay off immediately to spend some time before your writing session processing your thoughts and letting them go. Yet, some mental baggage will persist no matter how hard you try to expel them.
One method of letting the internal distractions go is to do a simple form of meditation. Don’t worry you don’t have to become a Zen monk! This practice can be done in 3-5 minutes, or longer if you choose.
Practice letting go
1. Sit in a comfortable spot, even at your desk and justquietly observe the thoughts and emotions going through your mind. Don’t try to stop the chatter.
2. Don’t attempt to stop thoughts or emotions. Allow them to arise. Then observe how they disappear by themselves. A thought arises in your mind, if you don’t entertain it will fade away in a few moments. Try it!
3. You will notice more content pops up in your mind. It’s an unceasing process. This practice is not meant to end all thoughts but rather to notice how you don’t have to entertain everything that arises. They don’t have to control where your attention rests.
4. Practice watching the mind for several minutes and eventually the mind will begin to calm down. Thoughts will come up but you won’t be concerned about them. You let each thought go, and more arise. However, if you’re not putting effort into paying attention to them, they will fade away to a great extent.
Coming back to this practice each time you prepare to write will over time help you easily focus your attention on the task of writing.
3. Intention – Finding your direction
For the writer intention is everything. Why you’re writing, what the story is about, how the plot line will develop, etc.
Before you sit down to write you have to know what your intentions are. Obviously you’re writing, but what’s the goal? What do you plan to accomplish?
You may want to write an entire article in one session. Maybe it’s just a brainstorming session or even editing some copy for a client.
Intention is critical to mindfulness because with right intention you won’t get lost in your writing and spend a good portion of your time working through thoughts about what your goals are.
You’ll be focused on the actual writing!
Practice allowing creative intention to manifest
Here’s a great practice to help zero in on your right intention:
1. Spend 5 minutes or so letting the thoughts and other distractions go.
2. Once you feel mentally calm and at ease quickly revisit what your motivation for writing is. Just allow that desire and thought to arise. Don’t analysis it or judge it.
3. Let the basic desire manifest from your creative center. Then as you begin to write just let that drive that wells up in you direct your writing.
This brings us to the 4th factor, centering…
4. Centering – In the middle
Centering is simply bringing together a peaceful environment with your intention.
You let go of all the stuff that’s not important and center yourself on your creative drive.
1. To practice centering you notice when your mind starts to drift away from your intention. Are annoying thoughts starting to pop up? Did you forget to silence your smartphone notification?
2. To stay centered you continually bring your awareness back to the writing. Casually silence the notifications, or revisit letting that pesky thought run its course, let it go.
3. Then come back to your center. Not to the left, where the phone is competing for attention or the right, where a thought is compelling you to focus on what’s in the fridge, because you’re a little hungry.
No, you keep bringing yourself back to the creative depth of yourself. Call back to mind your intention.
5. Concentration – Laser sharp focus, be the writing, flow like a river
Concentration is the fruit of letting internal and external stimulus go. It’s grounding yourself in your creative intention.
Concentration can’t be forced. You can try to force yourself to focus on what your writing. But, that hasn’t worked so well in the past!
Taking time to continually run through the previous practices you will begin to notice how concentration will come naturally.
Focus and determination are direct benefits from letting go of all unneccessary distractions, having a crystal clear intention, and repeatedly coming back to your center when you lose sight of your motivation.
Keep up these exercises and see for yourself.
6. Expression – Flow like a gentle river
The key to expression is getting yourself into a state of flow. What is flow? It’s a state of productivity that can’t be quite defined but you know when you’re in it.
Recall a time when words were putting themselves down for you. It was as if they were writing themselves. As if the writing came from a place deep inside and you were a vehicle to get them out.
That state, the creative free flow is what we writers dream of. If we could only have that all the time!
Albert Einstein Said it best:
“…there are moments when one feels free from one’s own identification with human limitations and inadequacies. At such moments, one imagines that one stands on some spot of a small planet, gazing in amazement at the cold yet profoundly moving beauty of the eternal, the unfathomable: life and death flow into one, and there is neither evolution nor destiny; only being.” – Albert Einstein, source Goodreads.com
What Einstein may have been pointing to is that same state or set of conditions that so many meditative traditions offer. Mindfulness is a state of being. Flow is the natural outpouring of being at ease in your environment, mind, and center.
When you make space for your creativity to flow unhindered only the limits of your inner being can define what you’ll bring to your expression. Whether that’s writing, our focus here; or painting, helping others, or just living the best life you can.
The Flowing river: Gentle but so capable of intensity
An example is the flowing majesty of a river. It moves on with determination, at ease at times, but flowing on and carving out the landscape.
Then when nature decides that same meandering river can explode with terrible vigor and rage, overcoming everything in it’s path. Life, nature, existence all define its flow. The source of flow you know so well!
Writing gives you an outlet to let the unique way in which you see the world come forth calmly or violently whatever the nature of your center. But through your creative expression you paint an interpretation of reality with words that can touch the reader.
Every writing niche can tap that core of creativity for the right author. Even copy writing can harness that power and vitality. When the copy grabs the right person it touches them in a way only you could have intended.
Will you take just a few minutes to give these practices a chance to invigorate your writing? It can only harm the distractions that are competing for your attention! Don’t give them the power to cloud your intention.
What are you waiting for?
Start today by applying even one or two of these factors to your writing process and you won’t be disappointed. But don’t stop there! If mindfulness resonates with you look into resources online that can can build on it. For the non-spiritual person there are even mindfulness websites that are even geared towards business professionals.
Reach out if I can help you get started with mindful writing.
I am always available to consult or help you work on your writing and mindfulness technique. Send me an email or check my Contact page for other ways to get in touch.
By applying the exercises and practices I have shared you can improve your writing ability, and creative edge. Now get to writing!
Leave a comment!
Also, please comment if you have any success stories to share after using the 6 factors. What was your experience? Has it changed your writing experience? What were your personal results?