author/source: Suzette Martinez Standring
How do you move readers? Be vulnerable. Evoke emotion, and if you feel it, you can convey it. But how is it possible when inner hobgoblins spew criticism even before the first sentence is tapped out? Defensive shrinkage from ridicule is common, and it shows in the writing. Do not be captured by fear. Instead, capture your own transformative moment. How? By immersing yourself in that long-ago moment.
Relaxation leads to the creation of vivid writing, and such relaxation has many synonyms: meditation, self-hypnosis, trance, daydreaming. Using this skill to enliven my own writing is something I discovered in 1990 when I was certified in hypnotherapy, purely out of curiosity as to the mind-body connection. One is “talked” into a state of meditative trance by using descriptive and sensory words. At that time, I was struck by the direct parallel to good writing, which immerses a reader into an experience by drawing on the imagination and five senses.
The hypnotic goal is to work out issues in a relaxed state, and again, the meditative process struck me as useful to writing. Years later when I become a professional writer and syndicated columnist, I learned readers hope for a resolution, a takeaway, a shared lesson. This component of insight often is elusive as we battle writer’s block and frustration. Therefore, relaxation unlocks the doors to the subconscious, where stories and emotions reside. Relaxation allows the writer to bypass the chattering critics of the conscious mind. Instead of laboring to create a story, the story can arrive in its fullness.
Using meditation to explore memories for written storytelling is easy. Everyone is capable of reaching a focused, relaxed state of mind. At one writing workshop, I led 150 writers in a group hypnosis exercise with satisfying success.
While it is so much more effective to be led on this journey, as I often do for others, the steps can be used as a pathway to creativity. You might even try taking the steps with a writing partner. Take turns leading the other with these prompts, interspersed with calming, affirmations (“You are safe.” “Allow yourself to go deeper into relaxation.”) Here are the guidelines and remember to give yourself the time and the space to ease into the experience.
Relax your body, focus on breathing.
Allow the path of your breath to lead you to a memory.
Be the observer. Immerse yourself in the surroundings and sensations.
Observe colors, time of day, the season.
Who is present? What is happening?
Feel the emotion of this memory. What does the emotion say, if it could speak?
In what way has this memory shaped your outlook today?
During the experience, you are not taking notes. You are simply observing. Plenty of time to come back to the present and pick through the raw gemstones from your subconscious, the realm of your authentic self. The final edit, or polish, becomes much easier. Happy mining!
Email Suzette Martinez Standring: [email protected] or visit www.readsuzette.com She is syndicated with GateHouse Media, is the author of The Art of Column Writing and The Art of Opinion Writing, and presents writing workshops nationally.