Mindfulness and Writing

April 30, 2015 | By | 8 Replies More

IMG_4396 (2)You are probably familiar with an image that has forged its way through social media. It outlines the creative process as follows:

  1. This is awesome
  2. This is tricky
  3. This is shit
  4. I am shit
  5. This might be ok
  6. This is awesome

I am going to walk you through each stage of the process with useful techniques for overcoming blocks. I would add another stage to this because in order to be in a place where creativity flows we have to set ourselves up in a way that allows for creative inspiration.

Getting started: the importance of a routine

Having a routine around your craft means your art becomes part of your daily living. It doesn’t require any thought or discussion, it just happens, it is non-negotiable. If you have a yearning for creativity and don’t feel fulfilled without it, giving yourself permission to sit and create for an allotted period of time will leave you feeling loved. This may mean making sacrifices, such as losing half an hours sleep or an hour less of television in an evening, whatever it is, you can choose to put you and your art first. You must ask yourself, what are you willing to do to in order to be creatively fulfilled?

The first step is setting yourself a period, a word limit, or a certain number of pages where all you are going to do is create. Stephen King in his book “On Writing” describes his creative process and suggests aiming for 1,000 words a day. He sits down to write and doesn’t leave until 1,000 words have hit the page. Whatever your goal for the day, have it clearly outlined and be disciplined enough to meet it. If it is three pages then write three pages no matter what. If it is to write for half an hour, then write for half an hour. Just be creative, because that’s what you were put on this earth to be.

  1. This is awesome and stream of consciousness writing

“Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas.”  Marie Curie

The creative process begins with an idea. If you are stuck for ideas one technique that is very effective in stimulating the brain and allowing ideas to flow without much thought is a form of writing known as stream of consciousness writing. This form of writing was coined by William James in 1890 and is a common exercise delivered in writing classes.

When used in literature and prose it depicts a characters thoughts, feelings, and emotions as they occur – literally their stream of their conscious thought. Jack Kerouac used this in his book “On the Road” and Julia Cameron believes this form of writing, or her “morning pages,” are the key to uncovering the blocks in art and allowing your creative self to emerge.

Here’s what it entails: Simply sit down and write whatever comes to your mind. There is no need to use punctuation nor to worry about grammar or whether it makes sense, just let the words spew forth from your mind and onto the page. Don’t attempt to write anything of value; set yourself a target and write. I

f you have a question that you want answered write it down on the page and open it up to the universe. Then continue to write. If you can’t think of anything to write then you write “I can’t think of anything to write.” If you are in the process of writing something that requires a topic you can take the same approach: write everything you know about that topic. There is no need to judge what comes onto the page, just allow it to be and let your pen do the talking.

When we write without any hesitancy, without editing our words, we are at the heart of our creative selves and herein lies the magic.

Writing in this fashion takes the pressure off the outcome, i.e. the finished piece of writing, and instead is a way for us to let our thoughts, ideas, and creative inspiration emerge onto the page. It is a way of tapping into the unconscious mind – the heart of creativity. It is creation in complete presence and all it requires is that you pick up a pen and paper, or plug in your computer, and write. When you do this every day you have the ability to manifest whatever it is you desire. Sometimes what emerges is alarming. At other times it may seem utterly meaningless and trivial. Once you have met your target put it aside and leave it.

  1. This is tricky: step into nature

There will evidently come a time where you lack focus. Instead of fighting the creative process, open yourself up to the world and step outside. Adopt a mindful awareness of your surroundings. Notice the trees and the sounds around you. Be aware of life rather than engaged with the stories floating around in your mind. Being in nature and taking the pressure off yourself allows for an opening of your senses and it’s within this space that inspiration will come.

  1. This is shit: do it anyway

Don’t quite before the miracle happens.

Too many times I have heard people say “this is too hard” and they give up. It is normal to have self-doubt, insecurities, mind chatter, and a harsh inner critic who tells you that what you are doing is rubbish. This, dear friends, is your ego trying to keep you in the comfort of dreary everyday living. In order to move through this phase, ignore the thoughts that are blocking your creative flow.

Instead, focus on what you are doing and give yourself permission to utilise your gift. It is through action that you will push past the fear and self-doubt. The only way to overcome fears associated with creative pursuits is to go out and do whatever it is that scares you. As Susan Jeffers so aptly stated: “feel the fear … and do it anyway.” Remind yourself every day that you were given the gift of creativity and it is your job to create.

  1. This might be okay: practice mindfulness

There is nothing quite like stillness to bring clarity and inspiration. Creativity thrives on stillness and presence. You only need to take a couple of minutes out of your day to sit and practice mindfulness for you to feel rejuvenised and inspired.

To do this simply sit in a position that is comfortable, bring your mind back to your breath, noticing where it enters and leaves the body. This might be just above your top lip. It may be the rise and fall of your chest, or you might notice your stomach as it expands with every breath. Just sit and pay attention to the natural flow of the breath.

Then become aware of the sensations in your body, the feeling of your hands as they rest in your lap. Relaxing your shoulders and noticing how it feels around your heart. You might notice the tingling sensations in your legs and feet and how it feels as they rest on the floor.

When you find your mind drifting into thoughts of the future and the past, as it is conditioned to do, simply bring it back with a non-judgemental awareness to the breath and the sensations in the body. It is in the noticing that we are strengthening the neurological pathways in the brain and bringing awareness to what is going on right here in the present moment.

Research has shown that practicing mindful meditation increases creativity. Sifting through the thoughts in our mind and diligently coming back to presence allows space for what we truly desire. It is underneath the whisperings of the mind that our creative self lies, we simply have to be here and allow it to emerge.

  1. This is awesome

It is now that you can edit your work and rework it from a different perspective. Circle ideas worth keeping, taking time to move ideas around, and slowly themes will emerge. This can be an exciting process if you allow it to be. You have successfully overcome fear, insecurity and self-doubt so be ready to feel energised and ready to take on the world.

It is only after you have worked your way through the fog of insecurity and uncertainty that you will discover the vast expanse of deliciousness that lies beyond.

Tess Bartlett is writer, speaker, researcher and mindfulness and transformation coach for heart-centred creatives and is also the Director of Tess Bartlett Holistic Coaching . She is passionate about creativity, mindfulness, and self-compassion and adores writing, having written guest articles for Blog Society, Relationships Revealed, Happiness + Wellbeing Magazine, The Successful Coach Magazine and she had a story published in an anthology of women’s writing “I am Subject: Women Awakening: Discovering our Personal Truths”.



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Category: How To and Tips

Comments (8)

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  1. Jan Joe says:

    Great blog post! It’s hard to pick a favorite, but #4 “…When you find your mind drifting into thoughts of the future and the past, as it is conditioned to do, simply bring it back…” reminds me of how it helps us to live in the present, be in the present. If I feel myself slipping I work on your #2 and add five deep breaths.

    • Tess says:

      Hi Jan,

      Thank you for your comment. Glad you like #4 – Mindfulness is golden, especially when it comes to creativity and there is nothing quite like stepping into nature 🙂


  2. Hi, love every point you offer. Especially the reminders to take a breath (in nature) and mindfully continue mindfulness practices.

    Thank you!
    (visiting from #MondayBlogs)

    • Tess says:

      Hi Sue,

      I’m glad you enjoyed the article and especially the gentle reminder to breathe. So important, and yet we forget.

      Tess x

  3. Amy Hopkins says:

    Haha, what about the ‘this is so awesome… but I’ll do it later’ phase? I think I need to move the ‘do it now’ bit around 🙂

    • Tess says:

      That’s part of the this is tricky, just seen in a different way. It’s about re-framing it and and saying well if it’s awesome, but you’re not doing it now what is behind that? Is it fear? Is it because the goal is too big? If that’s the case, ask yourself “what is the ONE thing that will make the biggest difference today?” And just do ONE thing. Write one paragraph. Then write another. If it’s awesome, it needs to be done now 🙂

  4. shereen says:

    I seem to be at the ‘this is shit’ phase a lot and staying there lately so I dont post anything as a blogger but thanks for this, was a much needed boost on the creativity:)

    • Tess says:

      Hi Shereen,

      It’s just the lovely mind chatter which prevents us from being the superstars we are destined to be 😉

      Just thank it and keep on writing, that’s all you’ve got to do. x

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