Writing demands a lot from us.
Any writer can tell you about the feelings of discomfort associated with staring at a blank page, and how arduous and testing the revising process can be. When we immerse ourselves deep enough in the craft, it tests us in more ways than we might have expected. We come face-to-face with fear (of rejection, judgment and uncertainty). Hopefully, we also come up against what it means to trust ourselves through the process of seeing a project to completion.
Beyond all the uncertainty, fear and insecurity writing can bring up for us, there is something inherently beautiful about the writing process, what it gives us and how it can enrich our lives.
We all have stories to share that can and should be told, no matter who we are. If we give ourselves the opportunity to connect with our feelings, we can translate our thoughts and emotions onto the page and make something beautiful with our words. Everything changes when writing becomes an extension of yourself, when you allow yourself to lean in and express yourself creatively. This requires a tremendous amount of trust but this is also the side of writing that feels good. This is what we want to cultivate more of in our writing lives.
My writing process changed when I came to meditation and stumbled upon mindfulness.
I came to meditation at a time when life was anything but still. I wasn’t writing back then, because anything that even closely resembled a passion of mine had been folded away neatly and stacked in a cupboard like a set of clean sheets that came out once a year for visitors. But as I connected with the breath and, consequently, with myself, the pull amplified until I could no longer ignore it. I remembered what it was like to put pen to paper, to make sense of something with every sentence that formed on the page.
These days, mindfulness and meditation form part of my writing practice. It’s in noticing the little things that I find delight and inspiration. It’s in being able to connect with myself that I can trust myself enough to write truthfully and authentically.
In order to write from our hearts, we need to let go of judgment. The best way I know how to do this is to become present both in our lives and on the page. When we’re in a state of mindfulness, we begin noticing things; the way the butterfly landed on the flower, the way our moods change with the seasons, the way the honey drips off the wooden spoon, the way he looks at her and the way she responds. We can bring this deep observation onto the page.
I will often practice meditation before sitting down to write and sometimes even in the middle of my writing day. It’s one of the best tools I know to keep me present not just in life but on the page, too.
With the breath, I can slow things down and focus on one thing: the story at hand. One scene, one moment, one idea.
Next time you’re feeling stuck, try connecting with your breath. Set the intention of letting your ideas and words flow freely, and see where it takes you. Hopefully that place will be somewhere that feels good.
Author: Vanessa Carnevale
Editor: Caroline Beaton
Photo: Courtesy of the author
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