What does meditation have to do with writing?
This is a topic I should cover in full in a future post sometime soon, but for now I’ll say that how you respond to stray thoughts during the rest of your day strongly influences how you respond to them when you’re writing.
Meditation is sort of like strength training for your mind. The process of sitting down to write and struggling to clear your thoughts could be made a lot easier if you practice that skill regularly just like carrying a few bags of heavy things home from the store is easier if you’re already accustomed to lifting weights.
Writing this post took longer than I expected, but I’m ready now.
Let’s talk about the connection between meditation and writing.
What does meditation have to do with finishing, or maybe even starting, that blog post, poem, short story, or full-length novel?
Think about all of the mental prep work that goes into creating something. I don’t know about your writing processes, but the things I write rarely slip out of my mind fully formed. A flash of a character appears here and a line of dialogue there. On a different day, the perfect blog post title might show up or I may jot down a funny anecdote that I hope to work into something when I eventually figure out where it fits and whether it should remain nonfiction or be fictionalized instead.
Among its many other uses, meditation is a method for responding to stray thoughts and determining which ones, if any, are worth jotting down.
As one of my relatives said recently, “don’t believe everything you think.”
Not every thought that pops up can or should be entertained. This is as true whether someone is mediating, writing, or was just cut off in traffic and is feeling a sudden flash of anger at the person who made them slam on their brakes.
If you can train your mind to see a thought bubble up without feeling the need to chase after it when you’re sitting or walking quietly, it becomes easier to do over time when one is in any number of other situations.
Silence Your Inner Critic
I’ve been through multiple periods of writer’s block over the years. In retrospect, some of them were caused by my inner critic speaking so harshly about what I was working on that I was no longer sure where to go next.
By learning to turn away from unwanted thoughts through regular meditation, it slowly becomes easier to write without listening to your critical thoughts about what you’re working on.
I’ve never read a perfect first draft of anything. The further away I move from the expectation that I somehow magically do it right the first time.
That’s just as nonsensical as it is impossible. First drafts always need to be corrected and improved upon. The important thing is to create them in the first place.
A Quiet Mind Is a Creative Mind
It’s been my experience that quieting the mind does wonders for creativity.
Brainstorming is easier when one can stop and focus on the task at hand. Everything else can wait while you make lists, free write, or use any number of other techniques to get the ideas flowing.
Sorting through ideas is easier when you have plenty of experience gently releasing the unwanted ones as they pop up.
Writing in general is easier when your inner critic’s voice is quiet enough to ignore.
I’ve even found that revising is easier with a quiet mind as well because I’m better able to remember what it was I was intending to say before I compare it to what I’ve actually typed up.
Live in the Moment
There are so many things that are out of our control as writers, creative people, and human beings in general.
All we can do is release our work out in the world and see what happens.
One of the most beautiful things about meditation in my opinion is the way it encourages its practitioners to experience what is happening at this very moment instead of worrying about what might occur in the future or ruminating on the past.
Pay attention to what your five senses are currently detecting.
Focus on what you can control, and don’t fret about the rest.