Discovering our authentic voice, writing with lasting impact, and standing out from the crowd are high priorities for most of us who write. But how do we go about achieving these intentions? Conscious Writing is a new approach to deep writing with full awareness which takes us into the core of what we’re really here to write, and in the process, opens the way for us to realize our true potential as authors in the world.
As her 40th birthday approached, Jane decided that the book she had thought about writing for so long could not be put off any longer. It felt like “now or never” and she was determined to see it through to completion. As a professional person who had an interest in personal development, Jane knew all about setting goals and positive thinking. She created a plan and scheduled time in her diary to begin writing.
Three months later, with only a few pages of notes written and nothing concrete achieved, she approached me for help. She was dismayed by the fact that despite her best efforts and a strong intellectual determination to write her book, it just wasn’t happening. The situation was especially frustrating for her as she was a disciplined person who usually found it easy to stick to her plans. Yet, she discovered that sheer willpower didn’t work with writing; the harder she pushed, the less progress she made!
It wasn’t long before the reason for her struggle was revealed. Although Jane had successfully gathered her thoughts about writing her book, the way she felt about the whole process was entirely different. Deep down she didn’t feel that she had anything of value to say let alone that anyone else would be interested to read her words. Her head and her heart were pulling in opposite directions.
Once she became aware of the source of her block, she felt an immediate sense of relief, and let go of the enormous pressure she had been putting herself under. Releasing the feelings of failure and gradually shifting her mindset to draw how she felt into alignment with her intellectual intention to write led to real progress being made at last. She was able to recapture her enthusiasm and her writing started to flow freely.
The Importance of Mindset – and Beyond
Jane’s story is not an isolated example. When it comes to writing and authorship, our mindset is one of the key factors that makes or breaks our success. William James speaks of the power of mindset when he proclaims that, “The greatest revolution of our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.”
The premise of Conscious Writing is that our state of consciousness determines and shapes the writing that we do; and whether we write, or not as the case may be.
Acknowledging the importance of our mindset – what we think and feel about ourselves as writers, our ability to write, and the value of our work – Conscious Writing reaches into, and beyond, the harmony of head and heart. As we expand the alignment to include all aspects of ourselves, and open to what we could call a “greater awareness” beyond our everyday self, we find ourselves approaching writing from a holistic point of view.
The broadness of this perspective, and the vibrancy we generate by having our bodies energized, our emotions in a positive state, our minds clear, and an open attitude towards “greater awareness”, clear the way for deep authentic truth to stir within us. We could see this as our deep self, the eternal part of us that lies beyond the conditioning of the everyday self we habitually use to navigate the maelstrom of life.
It is from this deep place that our richest and most original ideas arise. Poet and author Robert Bly refers to the importance of this alignment when he explains; “If we want to create art we have to stitch together the inner world and the outer world.”
With Conscious Writing, we begin with inner preparation to shift beyond the identification we usually have with our everyday self where the fears and anxieties about writing come from. Then we prioritize the outer skills of authorship to shape our insights and ideas into language so that we can share our work for the benefit and enjoyment of others. This combination of inner truth and outer expression is a blend of soul and craft, and adds a dimension to our writing that may not always be seen, but will always be felt by the reader.
One effective way to apply these principles to your writing practice is to start your writing session with five minutes of stillness, silence and space. Try this:
- Sit comfortably with a straight back, your feet flat on the floor and your hands resting lightly on your legs with your palms facing down.
- Close your eyes to turn your focus inwards, and become fully aware of your breathing as the breath flows rhythmically in and out of your body.
- Simply feel your breath as it flows in and out through your nose, and anchor your awareness to this single point of focus. There’s no need to push anything. It is merely a case of feeling and noticing what is already happening with full awareness.
Each time your mind wanders gently bring it back to the breath. With practice, this simple yet powerful technique that has been taught for thousands of years will eventually settle the chatter of your mind into stillness and enable you to access the riches of your inner self. Write from there.
Question: What is your experience of your mindset either helping or hindering your progress with writing? What impact do you feel a fully conscious approach would have on your writing?