Monday, November 21, 2011

What Does Your Writing Want to Become?

I was lucky enough to go to college at George Mason University, where each fall they have a week long literary festival called Fall for the Book. They have authors come from all over to read excerpts, sign books and give lectures about a wide variety of topics. It's a pretty great event, and I got to attend a bunch of great programs over the years. 

One of the most memorable events I attended was a lecture by a Mason English professor about using meditation to improve one's writing skills. He taught us how to meditate and did some short guided meditations to show us how it is done. Then, he gave us a simple mantra to use as we meditate:

What does my writing want to become?

This mantra is simple but to the point. I use it regularly in my practice because it gets me to focus on my writing and tune everything else out.

Meditation is incredibly helpful for writers because it helps you to clear your mind of all distractions. It gives you a chance to start fresh. If you meditate for fifteen or twenty minutes before you begin to write, you won't be worrying about the dishes or the cat, you will just be focused on your writing. 

The quality of your writing will improve because you won't be distracted by the rest of the things going on in your life. You will have the clarity of mind to focus completely on the task at hand until the story, blog post or chapter you're working on is finished.

I have found this to be incredibly helpful in my writing practice so I always like to pass on my professor's advice to others who are struggling with their writing. 

All you have to do is sit up straight in your desk chair, put your hands in your lap or on your knees, close your eyes, breathe deeply and ask yourself: "What does my writing want to become?"

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