What are you actually doing when you sit in front of an empty page and ponder about the scene you want to write with the five commandments of story plotting in mind? What are you actually doing when you focus on the formative rules of your craft and reach out for the muse at the same time? What is this unusual mental balancing act?
It’s called meditation.
Well, it’s a focussed meditation to be precise. Meditation requires a special energy – creative/spiritual. The bad news: It’s scarce. The good news: It can be exercised.
Here is an adapted excerpt from a spiritual manual on focussed meditation:
Step 1: Choose an ordinary object like a pen.
Step 2: Relax your mind and concentrate on the pen. Don’t examine the pen closely, just watch it. Allow your mind to wrap itself around the pen and pervade it. Be receptive and wait for thoughts coming to your mind. It doesn’t matter how many ideas come to your mind, it matters that your mind doesn’t wander off and thinks of something else. As long as your thoughts are revolving around the pen, you are concentrating. Make notes if you want.
Step 3: Measure your knowledge. Make a conscious effort to recall everything you know about pens in general. Keep ignoring unrelated thoughts and feelings.
Step 4: Measure your ignorance. When you think you have remembered all you know about pens, meditate on what you don’t know about pens.
Step 5: Pick up your pen and examine it closely. Look for details you have missed. Some of these details will link to your knowledge of pens, others will link to your ignorance of pens.
Step 6: Repeat step 1 to 5 as often as you can during the day.
Day 2 to 7
Step 7: For six days, repeat step 1 to 6 a few times every day with a different object each day.
Step 8: Put your exercise on a new level by focussing on a mental object. Concentrate on an idea or a desire.
Day 9 to 15
Step 9: Repeat step 7 with a new mental object each day.
Day 16 Onwards
Step 10: Practice visualization of a scene as you did with things and mental objects. Visualize the scene as a present reality. Paint a detailed picture in your mind of what you want the reader to experience. Don’t distance yourself from the scene. Get inside. Involve all five senses. How does it feel to experience that scene? Move through the scene like a camera man. Don’t be fuzzy, imagine concrete things in great detail.
Visualize the scene every day for a week. Each visualization session should end with a deliberate effort to make some detail of the scene sharper and brighter. Or to add something. This is always possible.
A warning: Don’t get emotionally involved in your scenes. Such visualization practices create experiences. The mental forces you concentrate and channel into the images of your scene have real power. They project, like a holograph, your inner image into an external reality. This is the reason why some writers suffer from their craft. By no means go to sleep after a visualization session. Do something else first to distract your mind. This is another balancing act you need to master: pouring your heart into something without getting attached. Trust, it can be exercised.
Picture attribution: copyright/ fizkes / 123RF Stock Photo