Featured – Faye from Writerology.net
The imagination is a writer’s playground. Spending so many hours dreaming up new ideas, new characters and new stories is part of being a writer. It’s possible, however, to become too caught up in your own thoughts, too wrapped up in your daydreams—and that can in fact have a detrimental effect on your imagination. Keep your ideas fresh and your thoughts focused through a simple technique: mindfulness.
Mindfulness is about awareness of the moment. Take note of your thoughts and feelings as they come and go and observe events as they happen, all without judging them as good or bad. Because you’re focusing on the present, not stuck in the past or speculating about the future, you’re free to notice things that you’d usually glance over. That has some interesting benefits for writers.
1. It increases inspiration
The world is full of inspiration, and I don’t just mean beautiful sights in far off lands or amazing stories of people you’ll never meet. You can find inspiration in the small parts of everyday life—from the places you visit to the scenes you witness to the people you speak with or overhear—and mindfulness can let you fully appreciate that.
Use your new penchant for observation to (surreptitiously) people-watch. Take note of the small details. What facial features form their different expressions? How do they move their bodies while interacting with others? How do they modulate their voice while speaking? Without your judgements or presumptions to cloud your vision, you notice far more precise details, which you can then use to inspire more interesting and life-like characters.
Don’t stop at just watching others (in a non-creepy way). Use mindfulness techniques to observe yourself too. What do you hear? What scents can you smell? What do you feel against your skin? Make a mental or written note of these sensations and use them to make your writing richer, more vivid and all the more inspired.
What else can mindfulness do for you?
2. It muffles self-doubt
Nothing shuts up your muse like critical thought. When the inner editor makes scornful comments in your ear, practice mindfulness. Don’t judge your writing, accept it as it is (while you’re writing those initial drafts) and be patient with yourself. Anxiety and critical thoughts impact negatively on how inspired and motivated you feel, so brush them away with a few minutes of focused awareness.
So far, so good… and there’s more that mindfulness can do? You bet.
3. It makes for a healthy and happy writer.
As an added bonus, mindfulness also promotes emotion regulation and enhances self-control. Don’t you love it when something that’s good for your writing life is also good for your mental health?
So now that you know just how beneficial mindfulness can be for you and your writing, give it a go yourself. Focus on the moment, observing your thoughts as they come and go, being aware of the movement of your body and the things that happen around you. No judging, no feeling self-conscious, no preconceptions. Just awareness.
To help you on your way, I’ve put together a Quick Guide to Mindfulness for Writers, which includes a short mindfulness tutorial and some exercises for you to try out. You can download a copy below.
Building mindfulness into your life, even if it’s just for 10 minutes a day, can bring a multitude of benefits to your writing and your own mental health. I challenge you to try it out for yourself this week and experience those benefits for yourself.
Oh, and don’t forget to let me and Nicole know how you get along in the comments below! Good luck and happy writing.
About Faye Kirwin:
Faye is a writer fascinated by the mind. She loves to dig into the heads of characters, readers and writers on her blog, Writerology, and explore the psychology behind habit building in her e-course for writers, the Writember Workshop. When she isn’t caught up in the online world, you can find her working away at her steampunk work-in-progress, Her Clockwork Heart, or sipping a lovely cup of tea. (Mmm, tea.)