This month we have a guest post by the wonderful Megan Ray Nichols. Check out her website: http://schooledbyscience.com/ for great articles about scientific discoveries, explained in ways that make them easier for all of us to understand! She also invites you to follow her on Twitter @nicholsrmegan.
Are you a writer struggling to come up with your next big idea? Are you staring at a blank page as the blinking cursor taunts you?
The most difficult part of writing is sitting down and doing it. But maybe the words just aren’t coming to you and you end up wasting an entire day. Procrastination is a writer’s worst nightmare.
Thankfully, there’s a method that can help you become the dream writer you aspire to be.
Welcome to the writer’s guide to mindfulness.
What Is Mindfulness?
To be mindful means you’re fully present in the moment and aware of what’s happening around you.
Basically, mindfulness means you’re able to focus on the’now’, without worrying about anything that happened in the past or might happen in the future. You can quiet all your thoughts about what you have to do and what might go wrong.
Mindfulness is important to writers because it allows you to be fully “in the moment.” You aren’t worried about how many more pages you have to write, or when that deadline is. You can be present when you’re writing and only focus on that. Mindfulness has many benefits for writers.
Mindfulness can… Beat Writer’s Block
Ever have those days where you’ve been sitting at your desk for four hours, staring at a blank page? We’ve all been there. Writer’s block isn’t any fun, but you can beat it with mindfulness.
Writer’s block often happens when you start editing what you’re about to write, before you write it. You think that a certain line of dialogue or action isn’t good enough before you put it on paper, so you desperately search for a better way to phrase it. This results in a blank page, because all you’re doing is preemptively editing yourself without actually writing anything.
Mindfulness can beat writer’s block because it’ll teach you to shut off the part of your brain that edits and questions everything you do. You won’t be worried about whether something is good enough, because that decision will come in the future. With mindfulness, you’ll be fully present and able to write confidently, in the moment.
Mindfulness can… Reduce Anxiety
Anxiety is like a shadow that’s always following a writer. You might be worried that you won’t hit a deadline, finish that draft when you want to or publish that blog post on your scheduled day of the week.
For writers, anxiety can be a result of procrastination – it closes in when you simply aren’t getting work done. Or it may be a worry that you aren’t any good and will never be good enough. That people will judge you harshly for trying to pursue this career.
Instead of dwelling on ‘what ifs’, learn how to reduce anxiety with mindfulness. By allowing yourself to be fully present, you won’t worry about deadlines, final drafts or perfection. You’ll only be concerned with the work that’s right in front of you. This will make you more productive, which will lower your anxiety. With less anxiety, you’ll have a clearer head and you’ll be able to write better.
How to become mindful? Meditation
Mindfulness is a skill you have to work at to develop. One way to develop mindfulness is to meditate. Meditation will let you relax and help you focus on just your present thoughts.
There are a few different methods you can use to meditate. No matter which one you choose, make sure you pick a time of the day where you can get to a quiet space. The key is to find a space where you can sit in silence for at least fifteen minutes.
If you’re a beginner, start by sitting down and getting comfortable. Close your eyes then start breathing in and out. Focus on your breath and feel the air rush in and out of your lungs. This is a great way to start meditating, because by only focusing on your breath, you’ll be aware of the present moment.
Mindfulness Writing Exercises
You can also practice these skills as you write. This is a great writing exercise that will help you practice mindfulness as you work:
- Set a timer for 30 minutes. Open your laptop or get out a piece of paper. All you have to do is free-write with no goal in mind. Write down whatever thoughts come to your head first.
- Close your eyes if you can. Don’t pay attention to the words you’re writing or how grammatically correct they are. This is a time to write your train of thoughts, not to edit.
- Take a deep breath after every sentence. This will help you relax and reach a state of mediation as you write. Write a new sentence after every breath. Don’t hesitate or stop to think — just write!
Find time during your day for this exercise because it will truly help you be present in the moment. Journaling is a positive means of self-reflection that can benefit your writing and your overall mental health. You may even be shocked by what you write during this exercise!
Remember: mindfulness is about being aware. So, whenever you start procrastinating or becoming anxious, remind yourself to focus on the present moment.
Find out more
If you’d like to learn more about Mindfulness, and receive guidance, training and support, you can find out more about Mindfulness Certification and Training here or here: https://www.mindfulnessassociation.net/ or here: https://learnrelaxationtechniques.com/mindfulness-meditation-for-beginners Please note these are just a few resources, there are many more available.