As a meditation teacher and a novelist I’m often asked about using meditation for creative writing. To illustrate the value of meditation to writers, let me provide you with a personal example.
I was recently working on my latest novel, a young adult fantasy (can’t give much away, sorry). I’d had my head buried in the book, writing non-stop for a long time. Suddenly I realised that I wasn’t thinking clearly and was working in the fashion of an automaton, punching the keyboard without thought. I needed to clear my mind. I needed to sit and focus.
So I sat for twenty minutes. And hey presto! after a mere twenty minutes I suddenly realised a crucial plot point in my novel, a twist that made the entire 75,000 word manuscript much, much stronger. I really wish I could share that plot point with you, but my book is currently with the agent and I’m not allowed to discuss it until it’s complete, so I’ll have to wait for now. Suffice to say, that the plot point I added brought the whole thing together.
I can honestly say that I would never have realised the change I needed to make had I not meditated. I know that for dead certainty. Meditation cleared my mind, made me look at my novel through fresh eyes, and gave me the insight I needed to truly finish my momentous work.
And that’s just one of the times that meditating had helped my creative writing. In truth, meditation has been the backbone of my writing for a long time. I always find that to create my best creative work I need to completely empty to my mind (Well, meditation and these other creativity boosting habits).
I need a blank page in my mind before I can fill a blank page on the screen. And that’s precisely what meditation gives me: a blank page.
I’ve spoken a lot about myself up to now. The truth is though that I have many writer friends who say meditation has helped their creative writing too. Some of the most common ways in which meditation helps creative writing include the following:
Ways meditation helps creative writing
- Meditation creates empathy, making you feel closer to your characters.
- It gets you out of your present day mindset, helping you to live in the world of your story.
- It makes you more mindful, more aware, helping you to notice any errors.
- It makes you more observant of other people, which helps when writing characters
- It strengthens your imagination
- And, of course, it stops you from getting angry and smashing your keyboard.
But how exactly do you use meditation for creative writing? Well, to start you might like to read my complete guide to using meditation for creativity. In that article I detail many powerful ways in which meditation can help you to access the full power of your creative mind.
Okay, so did you read the link? If so, let me now share with you five powerful meditation techniques I use to improve my creative writing.
Types of meditation for creative writing
1) Basic Breathing: Breathing meditations are specific to writing. They’re really the backbone of all meditation techniques. But if you are new to meditation then you should definitely begin by learning breath-based techniques. Start by reading my guide to Anapanasti breathing meditation.
2) Vipassana: Vipassana is essentially insight. This helps you to recognise and understand your thoughts, which can help to a) overcome any hiccoughs you have about your work, and b) make you more aware of thoughts, which can help with characterisation (especially in first person writing). For more on this read my guide to Vipassana.
3) Zen Walking Meditation: I use Zen Walking Meditation for one very simple reason. After writing for ten hours (I write as a novelist and journalist and blogger = lots of writing) I have to get out the house. And I also need to relax. Zen Walking Meditation gives you a fantastic break that also helps you to relax and clear your mind. For more on this, read my guide to Zen Walking Meditation.
4) Character Meditation: Okay, so you want to understand your character and get into their shoes. What better way than to completely clear your mind and focus 100% on your character. It’s simple too. Just close your eyes and focus on your breathing for 10 minutes, then bring your character to mind. To be a little more specific, bring your character to mind in the way you would with a deity in Bhakti meditation. If you like to learn more about this, read my guide to Bhaakti meditation.
I have used these meditation techniques for many years and my creative writing has significantly improved as a result of them. There are, however, many more meditation techniques to learn. If you would like to overcome writer’s block, to unleash your imagination, and to take your writing to a new level, then you should definitely read my new book: Journey To The Buddha Within You.