Hello Word Nerds! Thanks for joining me today. Man, it’s been a while since I’ve done a solo show. It feels like it’s been forever since I’ve had a chance to chat with you. We’ve been doing so many awesome interviews, and we have a bunch more coming up, but today I felt like it was time to have more of a heart-to-heart.
In this episode, I’ve decided to share some mindfulness tips that turned my approach to writing on its head. I call this my Mindfulness Manifesto for Writers.
This was a very tough episode for me. I had been resisting the idea for a while. You see, I’m very pragmatic and my creative process is very linear. Plus (how do I put this nicely) I always felt like the whole idea of mindfulness, of meditation, all that mind/heart/soul was a little to “woo woo” for me.
The thing is, being intentional about where your thoughts go is really important to writing. This skill is the essence of mindfulness and challenging myself to be open to it has changed my writing for the better.
I used to really hate meditation. I thought that sitting and breathing and clearing my mind was so boring. What I didn’t really realize then was that mindfulness is more about being present, about not thinking about what is coming or what has passed (I call this time travelling). And being fully present can be exciting. Especially when you’ve got a lot going on.
Five Mindfulness Axioms
- Honor your reality.
I did an entire episode on this that you can find here. The most important thing you can do is recognize your limitations and work with them to reach your goal. Don’t try to force yourself to be different than you are.
- The only best practice is what works for you.
There are a lot of people willing to give you a lot of advice on how to be a writer. And advice is good. But your process is unique. Don’t beat yourself up if someone else’s practice doesn’t transform you into the writer you always thought you were. Try anything for a little while. But only keep the pieces of advice that work for you.
- Resistance is a sign that a project matters.
Resistance is usually a result of fear. It indicates that what you’re facing is important. The next time you feel fear or resistance, take a moment to mindfully consider why you are avoiding a particular project. Sometimes you need to press yourself to push past the fear and take the next steps in your project. And sometimes you need to mindfully put the project aside to give yourself time to figure out what comes next.
- It is counterproductive to compound failure with guilt or angst.
You can’t change what has already happened. Don’t ignore the feelings that come from being rejected or failing at a particular part of a project. But don’t wallow in those feelings. Failure happens when you’re a writer. It’s important to redirect the energy you use feeling guilty to moving on with your writing, either revising or starting something new. Learning to ride out your emotions is key to being productive as a writer.
- Instead of panicking, ask how.
Writing and life are forms of problem solving. Things go wrong sometimes. Instead of panicking when something goes wrong, regroup. Work on shifting your thoughts from “I can’t…” to “How can I…?” Take tiny steps forward and eventually you’ll find you’ve come through the problem or that you’ve left it behind.
Mindfulness is all about bringing yourself back to this moment right now, to solving the problem at hand and to responding to the task in front of you. If you practice it regularly you will be able to use it when you need it to take that one small step that moves you forward toward your goal.
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Until next week, keep writing and keep being awesome.