Body-Mind-Spirit - Inspiration for Writers, Dreamers, and Seekers of Health & Happiness
Attention Is Precious
It’s a little early in the season for sunflowers, but they will bloom before too long—and look at this radiance! Wouldn’t it be great if we could all be this open? Writing and teaching make me feel this way. How about you? What brings out your inner beauty?
Lately, inspired by Pat Schneider’s book Writing Alone and with Others, I’ve been refocusing attention in my writing circles. Instead of writing from a page of poetry prompts, I’ve been starting our sessions with a full-body relaxation meditation, moving into visualization exercises, and writing from there. The prompts arise from my students’ imaginations. Although I still love using poetry prompts, I’m going to keep exploring these guided meditations in my writing circles. It’s garnered some amazing, spontaneous writing, and is another excellent way to bypass the ego and allow deeper, truer (unconscious) thoughts to shimmy to the surface.
In one recent meditation/writing exercise, I asked the question, “What matters?” The answers that came forward were what you might expect: family, friends, your health, your home, love. But one student responded to this question by saying something nobody expected. “What matters,” she said, “is what I give my attention to and why.” This resonated with me. I’d been spending too much time reading news, scrolling social media, and watching Netflix late at night.
When I considered why I was giving my attention to these things, I found fear lurking. I’d unconsciously thought that if I kept up with everything that was going on, especially the war in Ukraine, I’d somehow be prepared (for what?), or safe. This was irrational. I read an article that said people who spend a lot of time consuming news about the war can suffer as much trauma as the people living through it. While I’m not sure I’m 100% on board with this theory, I believe there’s such a thing as too much news, especially for highly sensitive people, as many writers are. As for my late-night Netflix habit, it was keeping me from the books I wanted to read and messing with my sleep, which effected my morning writing.
I made a conscious choice to place my attention elsewhere by significantly paring down my online and Netflix activity and reading more books.
Then, something cool happened: I became an obsessive drabbler! An obsessive drabbler is someone who spends many blissful hours writing drabbles. A drabble is a story told in exactly one hundred words. I love this form. The limitation of one hundred words redefines both essence and brevity in storytelling. Like poetry, every word counts, but you’re telling a complete story.
Traditionally, for a narration to be a story, it begins with a problem, or tension, that escalates to a climax, followed by a resolution. Doing this in one hundred words is, for me, really fun! I’ve been mining old essay drafts, as well as journals filled with (often funny) life stories long forgotten. I’m perusing thirty years of writing, plucking nuggets, and it feels like a treasure hunt! I pass many hours this way—sometimes to the detriment of adult responsibilities. I even found an expert in the genre to edit my drabbles. This will be my next book. Stay tuned.
How about you? Where do you place your attention, and why? If you’d like to do more creative writing this spring, I’ve got a couple openings in my virtual writing circles, which begin April 11. Please let me know if you have any questions. I’d love to support you and your writing!
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