Why Train the Mind?
Have you ever sat down to write and found that your mind has gone totally blank? Or you know what you want to say, but there are so many words bouncing around inside your head that you don’t know where to start?
When you try to write without focusing your mind it’s like stepping into an echo chamber with all the usual suspects shouting at once. You might manage to write through the hubbub and eventually it will settle down, but there are times when the noise takes over.
When that happens, the writing stops.
Trying to write through blockages and distractions is no fun. But there is a way to take back control and create some space in your mind so you can focus: mind training!
It sounds boring – and hard work – but mind training could be the key to tapping into the power of your mind.
As a writer, your mind is your most valuable resource. But if your mind is full of doubts and distractions, you won’t be able to express yourself clearly. That’s where mind training comes in. It can help you to shut down the annoying inner critic, dissolve your fears, transcend your limitations, and reconnect with the parts of yourself that get lost in the hustle and jumble of daily life.
The trouble is, you probably take your mind for granted. Most of the time you don’t even notice it’s there. You just think and worry and dream and think some more. Sometimes it all gets too much and you don’t know what to think.
When your mind gets overwhelmed like this, it starts to tell lies. If you believe those lies, you might stop writing altogether. This is because of one simple truth:
It’s easier not to write than it is to write.
If your stressed out mind can convince you to give up, you probably will because it’s easier than fighting the problem. So you need to be proactive. You must protect your most valuable resource and take care of it.
You can’t write without your mind. Unfortunately, your mind is also the source of most of your problems.
Many things can block your writing or slow you down. Some come from outside: distractions, time constraints, and other practical concerns, such as family and work responsibilities. While others come from within: self-doubt, fears, negative thinking, and emotional blind spots, or physical challenges such as insomnia and illness.
Whatever you think is causing the problem, the real obstacle to taking control of your writing comes from within. Even when you believe the difficulty lies outside, it’s your attitude towards it that is really causing the problem. Approached the right way, external obstacles can make you more creative because you have to think of ways to overcome the problem in order to write. So external blocks can usually be managed with a little willpower, organisation, and time management.
Internal blocks are harder to manage, partly because they’re invisible. You may not even realise you have a problem until you sit down to write and nothing happens. Fears and anxieties can hide behind other problems, making it hard to see where the real difficulty lies. For example, you may think you don’t have time to write, but in reality that’s an excuse to avoid confronting your self-doubt.
Even when you do manage to write, the process of creating a piece of writing is fraught with anxiety. To create you must step into the unknown. You have to question the work and doubt your choices, even when the writing is going well. Is your story any good? Are you working on the right ideas? Will anybody want to read what you have written? Can you even write?
You won’t be able to write anything unless you’re willing to deal with the fears that arise when you create. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to understand where these myriad anxieties come from. Perhaps then you can find a solution.
Continued in the book…
Extracted from: Free Your Pen: Mind Training for Writers (59 Slogans to Cure Writer’s Block & Free Your Voice). Available now!
In the next post we’ll have a closer look at the real cause of the problem: the pesky ego and its evil twin, the shadow…
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