Monday, November 7, 2011

Living Creatively, Writing Mindfully ...

Creative Writing & Mindful Living Guidance

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Photo/Text © 2011 Sean M. Madden. All Rights Reserved.

What do creative writing and living mindfully
have to do with one another?

Everything. As we begin living more mindfully, more grounded in the present moment, our monkey mind begins to settle down, to settle in. The berserk wild animal within us all—ever worrying about things to come and things gone by—becomes available to work with us rather than to constantly divert our natural creative intelligence into moment-to-moment obsessions and day-to-day worries and anxieties.

We literally free ourselves to create in the moment by letting go of our tendency to harshly criticize ourselves, to psych ourselves out of doing because of worries we may not be good enough, that writing (or painting, singing, etc.) is for those other, obviously more talented folk. Those who have certain degrees from particular universities, those who come from high-minded literary families, those who earn their living writing.

When we’re living and creating within the present moment, we can drop the stultifying credentialism which has fallen like a lead balloon upon our naturally creative selves. We can write for the simple joy it brings, without concern about what others might think of our work. We do for the sake of doing. The doing becomes an end in itself. We’re no longer writing to please others—not our school teachers, not our parents, siblings, friends or bosses. That said, we might very well choose to share our writing with our loved ones. But the decision to share is separate from the act of creation.

We write to honor the truth of our lived experience.

To give voice to those thoughts and feelings which have been running amok within us for far too long, which keep trying to make themselves known, wanting to be listened to, to have their day, to be recognized. We slow down and begin to shine the light of our simple, uncomplicated awareness onto those parts of ourselves that we might have denied. In the process, those acquired neuroses which we all have begin to unwind, to unravel and we emerge more whole, more complete, more in touch with our innocent child within, which might have been forgotten within the muck and mire of modern-day life.

And when we write from our heart, from our whole being, a surprising thing happens …

The moment we stop writing for someone else and, instead, give ourselves license to voice the truth of our own lived experience, good writing comes of its own accord. Writing, that is, which resonates, which carries with it a message deeper than the individually expressed words. A message, a shared experience, which will touch others—those who are ready to hear it—those for whom you might have articulated a simple truth which has lain dormant somewhere within them, or which they hadn’t yet managed to put into words.

A simple suggestion:

Take ten or fifteen minutes today to put pen to paper—fancy notebooks and pens not required—and give yourself license to write in response to the present moment, whatever the present moment holds for you. Bring a simple, uncomplicated (by which I mean a gentle, non-judgmental) awareness to everything within and around you. Notice how you feel, acknowledge your state of mind, pay attention to the rich details of life all around you—the things of everyday life which often go unnoticed, which are taken for granted, which we overlook in the mad-dash rush of living without presence.

Start with this simple witnessing of the world within and without, write in response to it, and nurture a childlike curiosity and sense of wonder which is allowed to flow through you and onto the page. You might start in one place and then find yourself exploring terrain far afield from your original intentions. That’s not only fine, it’s to be treasured. Open to that spontaneity, and keep the focus on the whole-bodied process of penning it onto the page, without any concern whatsoever of what others might think. If external validation comes, fine, but don't seek it out or become dependent on it. Simply write, let go, and enjoy the process.

Writing makes the writer—not the wish to be a writer.

Writing is a verb. If you’re writing, you’re a writer. Let go of the heavy burden of being a writer, and simply be, writing. And keep this simple suggestion in mind: Write freely expecting to rewrite, perhaps completely rewrite (and perhaps over and over), whatever comes up. If you truly give yourself freedom to write whatever flows onto the page, knowing that you’re free to rewrite at a later date, then you’ll be much more fresh, much more fluid on the page, things will be revealed which may not have come were you editing as you write.

American writing teacher Natalie Goldberg humorously reminds us that no one she knows has ever died from the inherently safe practices of meditating (for our purposes herein, simply bringing awareness to the world within and all around us) and writing. So within these safe, supportive practices, give yourself the freedom to let go, to acknowledge the truth of your own experience, and to make things up with wild abandon.

If you’d like to work with me on a one-to-one basis—either on embarking upon a creative or reflective writing practice, or with living more mindfully, you can reach me via any of the following means, and we’ll take it from there ...
Phone:  +44 (0)7971 774151
Skype:  Sean.M.Madden


  1. Its definitely a good practice to regularly put pen to paper. I've been lazy so far but i've just given myself little goals to write one piece per week. I hope the discipline helps me improve.

  2. Thank you, Jovie, for stopping by to read this article and for taking the time to leave your comment.

    We're all 'lazy' at times with regard to our writing or various other things we want to do. But beginning with that first step of simply putting pen to paper on a regular basis, even if for just ten or fifteen minutes, is a good place to begin. Best wishes.

    With warm regards,