When I sit down to write and I’m having a hard time getting started I follow a common writing exercise. I time myself and write for twenty minutes about anything, paying no attention to grammar, sentence structure or spelling. It always gets me writing, without fail, but when I relax and really get into it is when it begins to feel like meditating.
I’ve found that I begin to write less and less using conscious thought and instead begin to write without judgment, without fear. I can finally dismiss the thought, “what will other people think when they read this”, because it doesn’t matter. I’m writing just to write.
I also find that I become more aware of things I have been trying not to think or have been thinking about too hard. Suddenly, I may realize why I have been feeling irritable or I may come up with a simple solution to a problem that previously seemed unsolvable.
Natalie Goldberg in Writing Down the Bones wrote, “We make this choice with our feet firmly on the ground. We are not running wildly after beauty with fear at our backs”(20). I’m taking it out of context because this is the part that stuck with me.
I remember it as a command, though. “Do not run wildly after beauty with fear at your back. Face fear and choose beauty with your feet firmly planted on the ground”. This is what I am able to do when I am in this meditative writing zone. It still does not happen too often, but as I practice every day I hope to get there more often because in the zone is where real beauty happens, the rest is just preparation.
The irony of this fearless zone is that I get there by convincing myself no one will ever read what I have written, but after it is written I often see it is something I would like to share. Perhaps this is why it reminds me of meditation because when we meditate we train ourselves to stop trying to control everything. If we stop trying so hard to live fully, we then live more fully. If we stop trying to produce great art, that is when the great art comes.
Do you have tips for getting into the zone? Do you have a zone for activities other than writing? Does it also feel like meditation to you?