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Mindfulness for Writers – Part 1

How many times have you gotten in the car and arrived somewhere without remembering the journey? It happens more than you realize; your mind is busy, your thoughts take over and everything else falls by the wayside. It isn’t that bad a thing to happen unless someone suddenly pulls out in front of you. And, as a writer, losing yourself in this way can have serious repercussions on your work.

How can you fix this? By practicing mindfulness.

What is Mindfulness?

If you have heard of yoga, meditation or other relaxation techniques then you have most likely already heard of mindfulness. If not, it is defined as “the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally”. There is nothing magic about it, nothing religious or spiritual unless that’s what you want it to be. It is nothing more than focusing exclusively on what you experience and do without thinking of anything else at the time.

It could be as simple as focusing on how your food smells and tastes, enjoying it without any distractions. It could be as simple as taking a walk with just your mind for company, watching a sunset. It can even be something that isn’t so nice, such as a destructive storm, so long as you observe it without reaction or judgment.

Keep Your Focus

The idea of practicing mindfulness is not about shutting off your inner dialog, the one that causes your focus to waver. Instead, it is about practicing how to be “present in the moment”, practicing how to choose to pay attention to something, even when your attention is focused just on your breathing. When you can do this, your inner dialog will quieten down and that is what allows you to focus.

Our minds are often busy, thinking about the past, the present, the future. Thinking of fear, sorrow, regret, and uncertainty and that means your mind isn’t present. When you practice mindfulness, both you and your inner dialog stop talking.

Try this – as you breathe in and out, count each breath. When you first start, you will probably lose count quite quickly because your mind has wandered elsewhere. Practice will allow you to get further and further each time before your mind heads off. The random thoughts will slow, allowing you to focus for longer. This is how you learn to become aware of those thoughts that creep in and distract you and, once learned, that skill can be applied to anything, including writing.

Building Confidence

Many writers, in particular the new ones, tend to let insecurity, fear and worry to hold them back, as well as a lack of self-confidence. This is those random thoughts creeping in, fueling that fear. Practice mindfulness and you will find it much easier to recognize those thoughts for exactly what they are – nothing more than thoughts. Realizing that they are not the truth can help you learn to set those thoughts to one side and get moving with your writing.

Join me in part 2 for more tips.

Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Anne-Marie Reynolds