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Day one of the Writing and Mindfulness Challenge

Advice for writers and bloggers

Writing and Mindfulness

The benefits of mindfulness are multiple, from stress reduction to greater levels of happiness, but I want to talk about how mindfulness can work for a writer specifically. Not from the point of view of a spiritual or meditative practice, but rather how combining writing and mindfulness enhances your writing. I believe this applies to any kind of writing, by the way. Personally it helps me with blogging and writing feature articles as well as with poetry and creating fictional characters and worlds.

Observing the world around us

Combining writing and mindfulness comes down to observing the world around us with writer’s eyes. Observation is a writer’s super-power. In my writing courses I call this ‘noticing things’, which makes it sound less powerful than it is, because I think it’s pretty special. By the way, I know ‘observation’ seems like it has a visual bias but I don’t intend it that way. I mean the kind of observation that involves all of the senses. So over the next seven days I am going to set you an observation challenge, which will take you five minutes each day – although I’ll also let you know how to extend the practice if you want to.

What’s the point?

So, it doesn’t matter what you’re writing – this challenge still works – but what’s the point? It enables you to see the world with ‘writer’s eyes’ (again forgive the visual bias) and to create what Viktor Shklovsky called ‘defamiliarisation’ – that is you can ‘make the world new’ for your reader. Don’t worry – there won’t be loads of theory. All seven days of the challenge involve mindfulness activities or writing games that you can play in five minutes or develop into something longer.

Ready for the first one?

Here’s what you need. At least five minutes to simply observe the world around you. Something to write with – a notebook and pen or the digital equivalent. Somewhere to store your observations so you can look at them all later. Willingness to give it a go. A quick note: when I say ‘observe the world around you’ this works best when it’s done locally. You could literally be observing your home or the space immediately outside it, whether that’s a garden, front step, backyard or balcony, or you could be observing your locality by going out for a walk or watching the world through your window.

Here’s the first exercise

Take a break. Make a cup of tea or your drink of choice and spend at least five minutes doing nothing but drinking your tea and watching the world around you. If you want to extend this exercise, repeat this three times during the day, observing from the same spot and noticing how things have changed. You’re honing your powers of observation.

What’s next?

I’ll be back tomorrow with the next in this series of writing challenges. Until then, happy writing.


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