Bring Mindfulness to Your Writing
A gentle introduction to writing practice, which can both make you a better writer and break writer’s block.
Earlier this afternoon, I sat down to practice writing, which I know sounds odd. The article you’re reading is mostly the raw text of that writing practice session. I’ve added a link here or there and few notes enclosed in square brackets where I said something incorrect.
The point is to introduce you to writing practice with a piece that’s come out of writing practice itself. I’m exposing this raw writing because I think that academics (and anyone, really) could benefit from learning to write more plainly, which writing practice helps you do.
“10 minutes, starting now,” said Alexa just now. [I had set a timer for this session.]
But I don’t know what to write. So, as the advice goes, I’ll say that. Over and over until something else comes to mind.
I don’t know what to write. I don’t know what to write.
[Then, something else came to mind.]
I want to write advice for academics. For their writing. The first thing I’d do or rather say is to accept that they can write more clearly and that writing clearly would improve their writing. The next thing I’d say is that they kind of owe it to the public to write more clearly, especially if they work for a publicly funded institution.
“There was a dog outside fifteen minutes ago. Do they need to come in?” said Alexa just now.
I asked her to pause my timer and went to let the dogs in. My memory working [AKA, “working memory”] sucks, so I created an Alexa routine that reminds me to let the dogs back in.
I’ve returned and resumed the timer.
I would also like to tell the academics about free writing, and how it can free you to write more plainly since there’s no time to slow down. It’s not the kind of writing you’d use or turn in on a final draft of a research article, but it can definitely help you write a rough draft.
It’s a simple practice, but hard. And powerful.