Tag Archives: be a better writer

Writing and Meditation: Opening Yourself Up to Inspiration

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Recently, I returned from a trip to Oregon, where I had my first real experience with meditation. It was intriguing, especially because the individuals around me seemed so much better at meditating than me.

Meditation is not easy. But what it does do is something most other writing advice cannot. Meditation allows for inner exploration.

So much influence bombards us from the outside world that our minds can become clogged. Sitting down and focusing on writing becomes that much harder. Meditation gives your brain a chance to push away all that outer noise and focus inward.

When you’re able to focus on your internal influences, your creativity will increase.

How?

While outer information is vital to writing, (wide spread reading is a huge component to writing well) if you can’t process the information effectively, then your ability to interpret and discover new and fascinating ideas decreases.

Meditation provides the path to untainted creativity. When you’re aware of your thoughts, and are able to have an honest conversation with yourself, ideas will flow much easier.

However, to be successful, meditation needs to become a habit.

How does that happen?

  1. Time.

Make time to meditate, whether that’s going to meditation classes, retreats, listening to an instructive meditation disc, or spending ten minutes, or half an hour, three days a week on your own.

  1. Patience and forgiveness.

It takes time to learn how to meditate, and each person is different. What meditation means to one individual may be very different than what it means to another.

Forgive yourself if you’re unsuccessful when you start meditating. Forgive yourself if you miss a day or two of meditation, or if you hit a rough patch and find you’re unable to internally explore.

By forgiving yourself for your slip-ups, you’re allowing yourself to begin anew the next day. This stops you from stifling your creativity.

You’ll discover that after meditating, you’ll have a calmness in your mind. This is a fantastic time to write. You can focus on your current story or you can free write. Just get the ideas down before the outside world begins to clutter up your brain.

Over time, you’ll find that you carry that internal calmness with you. You’ll process information faster and more efficiently. You’ll be able to interpret both outer and inner stimuli. More ideas, as well as more connections to other discoveries, will come to you.

What do you think about writing and meditation?

(Photo courtesy of Angela Marie Henriette.)

 

 

What Makes a Good Writer?

There are a lot of people who want to write, whether it’s a novel, fiction or non-fiction, poems, scripts, or short stories. But what separates a good writer from someone who wants to be a writer?

First off, being a good writer has nothing to do with writing literary fiction over genre fiction (despite what many writing programs and the academic world tend to believe). It has to do with the impact your writing has on its intended audience.

Did your writing connect with your audience? Did it engage them?

Three ways to get better at the technical side of writing:

  1. Education. Learn the principles of writing. Study proper grammar and know when it’s ok to break the rules. Educate yourself about pace, tone, theme, and structure. Accept that no matter how much you learn there’s always more to know.
  2. Practice. Write. Rewrite. Write often, every day. Some days you’ll produce crap. Other days you’ll hit a goldmine. Sometimes you’ll have to let your friends go out and have fun without so you can stay home and write (making writing a priority).
  3. Comments and Criticism. Feedback is very important. It gives you views you wouldn’t think of. Your friends, critique group, teachers, family, etc. will point out what you need to work on, which, though might temporarily hurt your self-esteem, will help you improve.

However, there are some aspects of a good writer that can’t be taught.

  1. Imagination. This allows you to create fictional but believable worlds. It allows you to see problems from different and fresh perspectives. Imagination gives you the ability to be sitting at your desk and create things that couldn’t possibly exist in the real world, but are tangible in your make-believe one.
  2. Empathy. This is a big one. The ability to understand and share the feelings of others, and going beyond that, the ability to put yourself in the mind of your characters. Without this fictional characters wouldn’t be believable.

Imagination and empathy can’t be taught, but they can be gained. By living fully in the real world, your life experiences will fuel your writing. Find things you’re passionate about. Seek out new and invigorating situations, no matter how strange or uncool they seem.

Not too long ago I was in Canada and one of the people I was with started singing and dancing in the middle of town. A few of the guys acted all embarrassed and said they’d pay her to stop, but I thought it was amazing and joined in. Did we get a lot of looks? Yes. Were people making fun of us? Some, but others told us they thoroughly enjoyed watching us have a great time.

It was silly and has become one of my favorite memories. I have a character in mind based on that experience, and I would never have visualized that character if I didn’t do something ridiculous.

So, indulge in your passions and your imagination. Feel empathy. What you experience in life will spill over into your writing. Writing isn’t all about skill. A lot of it is about emotion and creating a world people want be in. Make a world people care about.

What habits do you have that help you be a better writer?