Writing AdviceWriting, Advice
ServiceScape Incorporated
ServiceScape Incorporated
2013

Keep Writing to Keep Dreaming and Keep Dreaming to Keep Writing

Keep writing to keep dreaming and grow as a writer. But keep dreaming, and you'll succeed at whatever kind of writing you want to do or need to do. Being a good writer in business or academia or in the publishing world comes from never forgetting the dream. But what techniques and focuses work best to keep you, the writer, on track to achieve your own writing dream?

In today's madcap world, we don't stop and rest often. We don't reflect much. We run constantly, always worrying about what is coming next. We have a need to catch up or get ahead of whatever we're sure is chasing us through life. In writing, however, constant hurry doesn't work very well. It's important to stop and listen and let the words work, no matter why we need them or how we want to use them. They will work if we give them time to appear and do their job. But how do we do that?

Albert Einstein had a technique he used in Zurich, Switzerland, when he was young and first contemplating his theory of relativity, composing those words, and refining its enormous complexities. He made a personal decision to stay away from people for periods of time. He'd leave behind the busyness of everyday life and stay inside his apartment alone, sometimes for days at a time. He'd think deeply, often not talking to anyone. He'd let the ideas flow freely whenever and however they came to him. He'd then compile them and schedule new periods of silence and personal thinking to refine them or create more new ideas.

You can be like Einstein. How? By discovering your own best time to be quiet and let your mind flow like his did. You can ponder an idea that's running through your head or retrieve one you had a long time ago. You can think about a piece you've been working on, but is troublesome, for example, the last line of a poem, a character who doesn't make sense or do what you want, a plot point that isn't progressing, or a thesis or journal article or work project that you know isn't "quite right yet". You can also just pause for a long moment and absorb the vastness and immenseness of the universe and let your mind work and wander at will as only a mind can. If you let your subconscious practice this technique of exploration, suddenly — BOOM — you'll have a great new original idea or an important refinement to perfect what you're working on.

How do you enter this meditation mode? What's the technique? You have to experiment with time and place and atmosphere and find what works best for you. As for me, I tend to slow down when it's time to reflect and separate from the world outside. I enter my inner self. Usually, that is either late at night when the day's work is done and I'm beginning to drift off to sleep or in the morning when I'm just waking up. I might be remembering a dream or trying to remember something I saw during the day just passed. I'll lie quietly, very intentionally not focusing on anything in particular. Perhaps I'll let a soft fan run in the background on a warm summer's night or let soft jazz play on my favorite all night radio show, i.e., a saxophone in the cold of winter. Sometimes, however, there will only be the stillness of the night and a darkened room as my companions.

In the early morning, my time can be the moment when I'm awakening and coming to full consciousness, as the sun peers inside or rain pounds the roof. It's during these remarkable moments that you'll sense a new thought floating through your head or multiple thoughts racing and interacting all at once, each wanting your immediate attention. You'll want to identify every single idea or maybe focus on only the most different. But don't try too hard, or you'll lose every thought in a sudden burst of awareness you don't want.

It helps also to be in touch with your environment. Get in touch with where you are, but let what's around you — the details, the specifics — float free. Let it all fade into immediacy and meditation when you can. Let your subconscious wander for a moment or two no matter where you're at during your day. It will, and it should. You'll be surprised where the mind can go and where it will take you. Soon, an amazing idea or even many amazing ideas that connect will arrive as new wonderful colleagues – sudden and alive and bright and all newly minted for your eyes only. It's then you'll need pen and notepad nearby. Both are my best friends as a writer.

We all need to stop and step back from what we do in our busiest days and find our own quiet world if only for a few minutes. It's especially important as writers to learn how to let our creative minds work freely without shackles or pressure. We know it can. Each mind works differently and uniquely. That's the joy of writing, no matter what kind of writing you want to do or have to do.

So learn how to be quiet and then be quiet regularly, even in the midst of all the daily noise of life or work that is modern life. Practice the skill of quiet exploration and mediation. Listen to your writing interior until you're comfortable and at ease with your own personal writing process. Listen to the quiet that is your unique and personal inner person. Then you will use the technique regularly and benefit in amazing ways. Remarkable words and ideas will certainly appear. You'll be amazed at how good these words are… and they're all uniquely yours.

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