Wednesday, October 5, 2016

IWSG and Meditation for Writers


Happy IWSG day! The Insecure Writer's Support Group is the brainchild of host Alex J. Cavanaugh and meets the first Wednesday of every month. To join the group, view the list of current members, and learn about Alex's co-hosts for the month, visit the IWSG page here. 

I've been struggling with anxiety a great deal lately, and the tools I've used to manage the problem in the past haven't worked this time around. I never expected to find a new tool in an issue of Writer's Digest, but that's exactly what happened.

I read an article called "Zen and the Art of Writing" by Teri Brown, which was about using meditation techniques to help with maintaining motivation, ending writer's block, managing deadlines, and other issues writers all seem to face from time to time. I've had trouble with motivation and writer's block for a long time now, which has only increased my anxiety, so I read the article with interest.

Source

Ms. Brown mentioned an instructional app called 10% Happier, and the title piqued my interest. The subtitle, Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics, did so even more, as I am an incurable fidget and I have always been a skeptic about the benefits of meditation.

I downloaded the app and hesitantly started using it. The app comes from a book of the same name by Dan Harris, an ABC newsman who discovered meditation after having a panic attack live on national television.

To my surprise, I immediately connected to the activities and meditation sessions provided by Harris' meditation mentors. My insecurity has always manifested itself in a torrent of negative thoughts in my head, and the idea that I could train my mind to tame these thoughts finally seemed believable to me. After following the program for a few weeks, I subscribed to the app for a full year and I am looking forward to continuing on this journey. I know it's not a miracle cure for my anxiety, but it's given me a great deal of hope when not too long ago I had close to none.

Have you ever used forms of meditation for insecurity or anxiety-related issues? What's been your experience with the practice?

Also, this month's featured question is "When do you know your story is ready?" My answer? I don't think I ever do! I have trouble reading any of my published stories because I keep thinking of things I'd like to add/substract/change, etc. I'm hopeless! :D


99 comments:

  1. Other than prayer, I've never used meditation. I might need to check out that app.

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  2. LOL. You're not the only one who wants to continue to change things after a book is published.

    I'm with Alex. Prayer is my meditation. Granted, with 5 other people in the house, it's hard to get there--but if something is important enough, we make the time, eh?

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    1. LOL I'm finding that out as I travel around this morning. Seems lots of us have the same problem! And yeah, we definitely make the time. :)

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    2. I don't know that it's so much "make time" as chisel time out of the granite face of life.

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  3. I've been wanting to pick up mediation. Well now I must! I'll read the article and check out the app :) Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I hope you like it! I'd be curious to know how it goes for you or if anything else works for you.

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  4. I definitely have to look into that for my daughter.

    I'm glad to hear it's helping you, Julie! Take Care.

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  5. I've read a number of books about meditation, but have never tried it on for size. I'm glad it's been so helpful for you.

    I'd be willing to bet EVERY writer nit-picks his work and thinks of post-publication improvements.

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    1. Yeah, it seems that way. I'd read lots of books too but nothing ever clicked for me. This one almost seems tailor-made for me so I hope I continue to feel that way. :)

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  6. I try to meditate on a regular basis and it is very helpful and calming.

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    1. Agreed! I'm hoping I can keep at it with this app.

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  7. I am totally going to check out that app, Julie. So glad to hear it's working for you! :)

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  8. I've tried to meditate before but never successfully. I do have to give myself a little talking to every morning before I write, though. And every day, now that I'm editing, I say I will not obsess over every single little thing. I could make a zillion passes and it still wouldn't be enough. So I'm aiming for much less than that. We'll see what happens.

    So happy you found something that works for you. Anxiety is no fun.

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    1. No, it definitely isn't. Thanks so much and good luck with your editing!

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  9. That sounds interesting although I've not conquered the art of meditating. Something to work on, I think. Thank you for sharing. Great post. Have a lovely, calm month.

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  10. When my world was imploding....marital breakdown and finding out who I truly am, I found meditation. I went to a class and we did some chi hung and then a meditation. I still use it and I find it calming. I also loved walking in the woods because, being in nature, I find very healing. I bet just about every post I read today will say they are never done and can always "fix" their book. We are our worst critics.

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    1. I love walking as well and find it very calming. Especially in the morning when it's quiet. I'm glad meditation has helped you as well.

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  11. Fascinating article. I've tried to meditate but my brain never shuts up! So happy it's worked for you. :)

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    1. Mine never did either LOL. This is the first time I've managed to make it behave. ;)

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  12. My other half always laughs at the idea of me and meditation. Like Christine, my brain never shuts up. But knowing you had success with it makes me want to give this app a go.

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    1. I would have laughed at myself too, honestly. But so far, so good.

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  13. Hi Julie - gosh love what you're doing to help yourself - good luck ... but it does sound as though you're on the right track. I have a feeling your books are great ... I have to admit I haven't read them .. but I love the concepts and the storylines you've used ... good luck and believe - cheers Hilary

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  14. Hi, Julie! I'm a huge fan of meditation and other mindfulness skills. I've been feeling more anxious lately as well, and besides exercise, meditation is one way for me to manage it. My anxiety is more linked to my day job than to writing, so that's interesting to apply meditation to help insecurity with writing!

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    1. I'm sorry you've been struggling with anxiety as well but glad the meditation helps you manage it. It's definitely made a big difference for me.

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  15. Funny story. My son, in his freshman year of college, took a class on meditation. He called me in a panic and asked if, as Christians, we were allowed to meditate. I told him we call it prayer...go for it. It really does help.

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  16. I'm totally going to check this out. I believe in the benefits of meditation but I've always been too fidgety to take advantage!

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    1. From one fidget to another I wish you luck with it! Hope you like it.

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  17. Oh yes! I get stressed out with the best of them and meditation, a bit of reading or hiding in a bubble bath can be the perfect solution. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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  18. I've used meditative prayer - basically repeating certain scripture words or verses to myself to help me stay calm or focused on the positives. It definitely helps!

    And, I'm always awed by how well-paced your stories are - don't add or take anything away! :)

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    1. Oh that's very nice of you to say, thanks!!

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  19. I've never tried meditation. As far as writing goes, whenever I feel really down and anxious about my writing, I just put it aside and forget about it for the day. Almost like magic, when I wake up the next morning, I'm already to jump back into the story, almost as if the previous day never happened. Don't know why, but that's the way it works for me.

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    1. That's awesome, Ken. I hope the magic keeps up! :)

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  20. Glad you found something to help with the anxiety. I've had plenty of negative thoughts lately like why bother? Sales are too low. You'll never "make it". What are you doing? My best anxiety fix-it is listening to music until I calm down.

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    1. Yeah, those kinds of thoughts are a big problem for me as well. Glad the music helps you get rid of them!

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  21. I'm so glad you found meditation and it's working for you, Julie. I was a big skeptic myself until I found I needed something in my life to still my racing thoughts. Meditation was what did it for me too.

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    1. Yeah, sounds like we came to it the same way. So glad it's helped you as well.

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  22. I've thought about meditation before but never tried it. I'm glad it's working for you. I don't think I'd be able to sit and do nothing but think about a certain thing for very long. Thoughts of my endless to-do list would prevent it.

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    1. LOL that is definitely a problem but I'm getting better at getting those thoughts to be quiet for a while.

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  23. It's great that you found something to help you. I've never tried meditation, but you make it sound worthwhile. Thanks for the tip. Good luck to you.

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  24. I feel too busy to check out the app. Wht does that say about me? LOL. A quarter of my day is spent with extra sleep or lying down because of my exhaustion. Kind of eats away free time. But I work with it and refuse to let any setback lay me out. No way! Anyway I'm glad the app had helped you Julie.

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    1. LOL you always make me smile, Sheena-kay. Thanks!

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  25. I don't go back and read my novels after they've been published. I see too many things I would do differently. Glad to hear you found something to help. Exercise is my best answer to stress.

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    1. I have stopped going back now, I wish i had learned my lesson earlier LOL.

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  26. I hope the meditation works for you. I've found I can't purposely meditate (I have ADHD, so a billion and one thoughts are coursing through my brain during quiet moments--and not so quiet moments). However, since I have insomnia issues, I realized I was going into a type of meditation instead of sleeping sometimes, and I feel rested afterward, even if my brain didn't shut off all the way. Anxiety is rough. Walks help me, but nothing is foolproof.

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    1. Oh, that's interesting about feeling rested after the meditation. Yeah, walking helps me as well but this time I ended up needing something else.

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  27. I CAN'T QUIET MY MIND DOWN LONG ENOUGH TO MEDITATE SO I PRAY. AS FOR KNOWING WHEN A NOVEL IS COMPLETE, I LEAVE THAT TO MY CP'S.

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  28. You aren't hopeless. I bet every good writer says the same thing. We are never done. But, sometimes, we just have to be.

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  29. I struggle with anxiety too (I used to have panic disorder!) and meditation has helped me quite a bit. I need to get back to it. I'll go check your link out. So glad it's helping you, Julie (((hugs)))

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    1. Thanks, Gwen. I have panic issues too. I hope this app will help if you decide to use it.

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  30. I've not done much meditation, but I find yoga very therapeutic. I had horrible anxiety and learned to tame my 'monsters' via writing. It let me get out of my own head for awhile. It took some time, but I was able to later apply that outside of writing. Sometimes I'm still working on that. I'd say mostly don't pressure yourself, to find a way to be happy with where you're at. I'm eager to check out your links.

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    1. Thanks, Mary. Writing was what worked for me in the past but for some reason it ended up just adding to the anxiety this time.

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  31. Meditation, huh? Never thought about it, but then I'm not a spiritual type. Seriously, I'm sorry for your anxiety problem, and whatever works for you is great.

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    1. Thanks! I'd never really thought about it either and wouldn't have expected I'd be extolling its virtues, but here I am LOL.

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  32. Like many others here, meditation has not been successful for me because I cannot turn.off.my.brain. But so glad it works for you. Also, I am so happy to find that most of us struggle with ending a project. Well, not really happy about that, just happy it's not just me.

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    1. Yeah, I agree, it's nice to know we're not alone!

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  33. I've never tried meditation. Perhaps I should.

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    1. If you do I hope you end up liking it too. :)

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  34. I do quite a bit of yoga and that involves some meditation techniques and breathing exercises. It can be really hard to quieten your mind long enough to get the feeling of stillness but with practice it gets easier to do. So pleased you have found something that is helping you as I know how exhausting anxiety can be. Best wishes.

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  35. Thanks for the tip on the app. I'll try it.

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  36. Any tool like meditation that comes without a health risk is worth trying for anxiety. It doesn't have to be a silver bullet cure - it can just be in the tool box. Once upon a time it helped me with anger issues, but as I've grown older, I find it more difficult to access. I still encourage people to try it!

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    1. Good point about the tool box, that's how I'm trying to look at it!

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  37. That sounds like a great app. I don't do a whole lot of meditation. I should give it a try!

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  38. I haven't tried meditation since college. I found my mind doesn't like to be empty so it would start making up stories and images while I was trying to meditate. Heh. I don't have much anxiety when it comes to writing in itself, but the whole social aspect of writing is a whole other story I'm still working on.

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    1. Yeah, the social aspect gets to me as well. I always seem to be working on it LOL.

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  39. I love the idea of meditation. I do my own version, which I'm sure isn't anything close to be right. But it does help. I'll have to check this out, thanks for the advice. And you aren't hopeless, you're a writer and for most of us, it's never quit done! :)

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    1. I think if your version helps then it is definitely right! Whatever works. :)

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  40. Meditation definitely is a good idea. I know I use yoga breathing all the time. Sometimes just hands over my ears helps too though;)

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    1. I have tried yoga and I'm really too clumsy for it LOL but the meditation seems to be the right thing for me.

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  41. It's good you found a helpful tool for your anxiety :-)
    As for this month's question, I don't really know when my MS is done. I try to get a little help from CPs and eventually brave the send button :-).

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    1. Yeah, we all have to brave that button eventually. But it's definitely tough!

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  42. Hi Julie! I've heard great things about meditation and yoga. Having a panic attack on live television really puts things in perspective. The older I get the more I panic when I'm in tight enclosed spaces like during an MRI. I'm sure everyone has different fears and it's great that this book has helped you.

    Julie

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    1. Thanks, Julie, it has been a big help. And I don't like tight spaces either. I always avoid elevators if I can!

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  43. Great job! Even just taking control by getting the app and having something to turn to is a great comfort.
    Best of luck!
    Heather

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  44. Hi Julie,

    SO sorry to hear you still have your anxieties... What will all you success with Baby MOO and you babies at home, I think you'd be soaring.. But I get anxiety..it's horrible and keeping busy is the best answer for me. Exercise really helps a lot, too...

    GLAD the app is working and I hope your get unblocked soon! I hope to get back into writing something this week. I'd like to do a piece for the IWSG anthology, since fantasy is my favorite. I can now that I finished this INSANE illustration job (17interiors, cover, and cover design) I posted a sample at my blog. It was so much fun doing illustrations and cover design again... it's been awhile since I had the opportunity to do so being so busy with design projects and my loft....Let's catch up soon... it's been ages!

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    1. Thanks, Michael! Glad to hear you are working on a story for the anthology - good luck with it! And we do need to catch up.

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  45. Sorry to hear about your anxiety issues, but glad to hear this approach has been having results for you. I'm not sure I'd be able to relax enough for meditation, and when I do relax I tend to fall asleep, which I'm not sure is the point!

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    1. LOL maybe you would like the first few minutes of the meditation before you fell asleep. :D

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  46. I'm going to check out this app. Did you download it on your phone? Anxiety can rob us of so much. I despise that. But I often find I do it to myself - I psyche myself out or beat the pulp out of my confidence. And for what? To make myself miserable? Why do I do that? Sending you positive cyber vibes... Know you're not alone.

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    1. Yeah, it's on my phone but you can also use it on tablets. Sounds like you and I do the same things to ourselves - thanks for your message. *hugs*

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  47. Anxiety sucks. I'm sorry you're dealing with it, but happy the meditation is working. My form of meditation is usually going for a walk. It helps clear my brain.

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    1. I love walking too, especially on a quiet morning. :)

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  48. I think you're wonderful! That may not be news since that's my general opinion of you, but specifically this time it's for admitting your difficulty, for searching high and low for ideas to solve it, for being willing to try something even if you're skeptical, and for sharing your findings with all of us. You're awesome, Julie. Never doubt it. :)

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    1. Aww, well, thank you! I really appreciate that, Lexa.

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  49. Thanks for visiting my blog. I survived Hurricane Matthew and moving, back online finally. Yes I have used meditation and (tapping EFT)-Emotional Freedom Technique. I also like rain noise for relaxing my mind.

    Juneta @ Writer's Gambit

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  50. Thanks for visiting my blog. I survived Hurricane Matthew and moving, back online finally. Yes I have used meditation and (tapping EFT)-Emotional Freedom Technique. I also like rain noise for relaxing my mind.

    Juneta @ Writer's Gambit

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Thank you for your comments!