I hope you enjoyed Tuesday’s post by Molly Burnham – If you missed it, be sure to read it here for some great advice on seeking connection and developing a writing routine. Today we’re continuing to look at Molly’s top six thoughts on Writing and Mindfulness by journeying to the dark side of the writer’s life. Keep reading to find out how to fend off your inner demons and manage those ever-present distractions.
Keeping the demons at bay is always important. The demons I’m talking about are: Fear, judgment, criticism, will I make the deadline? Will I ever have something to write about? etc. That’s where mindfulness really comes in handy-just quieting those stories and getting back to the work of writing.
Another demon that pops up is that only earning a living from my writing makes me a real writer. I am lucky to be married to an artist so we have a lot of conversation about earning a living from art, and how difficult that is in a capitalist society. I think having these conversations are really good because through them I realized that no matter what I would keep writing because I just like writing. Once I took off the “earning a living” from my plate, I became more open and free with my writing.
I also practice affirmations around writing. I focused on writing easily and writing with joy-as opposed to something like “I earn a lot of money from my writing” because that seems ridiculous. Notice this affirmation is not funny, so I have to work on that.
I also practiced mindfulness by reminding myself that writing is not a separate experience from my life, but is part of my life. I will grow as a person because I write and engage. I remind myself that this is my life and I am not someone else. All I can do is live this life, mindfully writing and sending work out, taking part in classes, without an attachment to outcome. I can forget the outcome and stay in the present. By doing that I was able to focus more fully on my writing and the story I wanted to tell.
Lastly, I decided that I was not allowed to compare myself to others. They get to live their lives and I get to live mine. When that comparing demon arises, my mindfulness practice notices it, and I let it go. I remind myself that this is my life as Molly Burnham and I am here to learn as much as I can about Molly Burnham and no one else. Let other people travel their life. We will all feel happiness, and struggles, but they will come at different times to us all, so stop comparing yourself to anyone else.
4. Choose Your Distractions
I’m married to an artist who also works a full-time job. We know we have limited time with our art, so we keep our lives simple.
We don’t go away on vacations a lot (because we need to be home making art). We don’t go out a lot or watch a lot of TV (because we need to make art). We don’t have a garden that needs a lot of our attention (because we need to make art). These are things that would need our attention, or to put it another way, would take attention away from our art.
These are different for everyone, but try to find a way to simplify your life so writing can become your focus. If my art was a vegetable garden then that is what I should pay attention to. This is also true for Facebook, twitter, etc. There are so many ways to make our brains move from our art, so many distractions, so only choose the ones you really want. This doesn’t feel sad or anything, it feels really right. It feels like I’m in control.
Molly B. Burnham graduated from Hamline in 2010. Her first book, Teddy Mars Almost a World Record Breaker came out March 2015. It will be followed by two more Teddy Mars books. She lives in Northampton, MA with her husband, two kids, and a dog. She tries to be mindful, but is remarkably unsuccessful most of the time. Luckily she learns a lot from her failures. To learn more about Molly and her writing please visit her website.