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The benefits of sitting still

Advanced tips for writers

Getting organised

This week I decided to get organised. The inspiration for this was a writing challenge that came to me via the coaching programme I’m doing. I spent some time researching small things I could do – because, if you follow my work, you’ll know I’m all about taking small steps. One of them was inspired by a post on the Zen Habits blog and is all about the pause. You can read about it here. I’ve called this post ‘the benefits of sitting still’ because I imagined myself doing it at my desk while I was writing, but it could also be called ‘the benefits of standing still’ because you can use this technique anywhere.

Here’s what you do:

  1. When you finish writing something (or doing anything at all) pause for a moment and reflect – it only has to be for a moment.
  2. At the end of the day, spend a few moments reviewing the writing you’ve done (or what you’ve done generally) and make a few notes. Unless keeping a journal is part of your practice, keep it super brief to encourage yourself to review your day regularly.
  3. To remind you to do these things, tie them to an existing habit. For example, going to get a glass of water, making a cup of tea, or getting into bed. This is a powerful technique known as ‘habit stacking’. James Clear discusses it in his book Atomic HabitsĀ and on his blog here.

You might be asking how and why this technique is helping me to become more organised. Well, I’m hoping if I can become more aware of how I spend my time, I can catch myself doing things that aren’t in line with my values, doom scrolling, for instance, and switch my focus to something more creative. (If you’d like help identifying your values, James Clear has some advice on this page of his blog.)

Writing and the benefit of the tiny pause

So how does this pause and review technique help with writing? I think there are four main ways, other than the general benefit of becoming more mindful.

  1. If you’re hoping to incorporate more writing into your day, any technique that causes you to stop and think ‘am I acting on my values right now?’ has got to help. Like me, you’ll start to become more aware of how you’re spending your time. By the way, the kettle test is a powerful – but also friendly – way to work out how you are spending your time.
  2. Pausing enables us to stop and observe the world around us, and noticing the world around us enables us to make our writing more direct and more authentic. This is a mindfulness practice but also a writing practice at the same time. It enables us to really listen.
  3. Our brains have a ‘negativity bias’. We’re more likely to remember the things that went wrong. Pausing and reflecting help us to remember the good stuff too, even if the good stuff was small, and that leads to gratitude.
  4. Gratitude can help change your mindset. A shift in mindset might be what you need to help you make progress with your writing.

I’ve written about writing and mindfulness here.

More soon. Until then, happy writing,



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