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Monday, May 2, 2011

Writing Challenges as Mindful Writing

Writing challenges are a great way to practice mindful writing.  I've talked about mindful writing in the past, and the idea is to be fully present in your writing and in the moment.  The question is, how do you do that when you're doing a challenge?  If you're pushing to write a whole novel in a month or a different story every day, you don't have time to be mindful, you just have to cram in as much writing as you can.  Right?  Believe it or not, challenges like StoryADay and NaNoWriMo are actually great exercises in mindful writing.

Here's why:

1.  You have to practice.  When you do a challenge like this, you're reinforcing the daily practice of writing.  You're showing up at the page every day and that's the first step of mindful writing.

2.  You have to be present.  If you're writing a story every day or trying to finish a novel, you can't allow yourself to be distracted by other ideas or projects.  You need to focus all your energy on the project at hand.  This is great practice for mindful writing because if a new and sparkly idea comes up, you have to practice setting it aside so you can work on the current story.

3.  You have to bounce back.  If you miss a day or slip up during the challenge, you have to bounce back and keep writing.  You don't have time to mope or beat yourself up for "failing" the challenge; you just have to write the next story.  This forces you to set aside those judging thoughts and go back to writing.

Remember: Mindful writing is about being fully present in that moment and in that writing project.  That means noticing when your inner critic is trying to barge in and letting those thoughts go.  It also means bringing yourself back to that project when your thoughts or ideas start to wander.

Are there any challenges you're facing in your writing?  Is there a way you can use the experience to practice mindful writing?

4 comments:

David Powers King said...

My challenges are blocks, mostly. Blocks hit me when something isn't working, or the story is going in a direction that it shouldn't. That's when I have to sit down and really play with the scene. I had to do just that over the weekend. It's surprising how easy the solution can be.

Great post! Mindful writing makes for good reads.

J.C. Martin said...

I appear to have been practising mindful writing subconsciously the past couple of months. Regular routine, daily practice...my biggest challenge is remembering to return to daily life--at least, that's the biggest gripe I get from the fiaby, who's accusing me of spousal neglect!

K.M. Weiland said...

I've never participated in the likes of NaNo, both because I'm already very happy with the consistency and productivity of my daily writing schedule, and also because my "mindfulness" tends to be much slower than 50,000 words a month. :p That said, I'm a big fan of NaNo and its sister projects. They offer a huge boost of focused intensity and inspiration to authors who are struggling to find their groove.

Kerryn Angell said...

Lol, J.C. Whenever I did NaNo I was accused of spousal neglect.

I use challenges often through Kiwi Writers to help keep me motivated with my writing. My biggest challenge is to make the time and show up at the time to write. Once I'm there I'm golden. :)

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