Monday, May 30, 2016

Lag Time Around a Bit of Writing: Easy Mindful Writing Trick

Here's a very simple way to observe mindfulness happening while writing: make use of the lag time between having a thought and recording a thought.

1. Record precisely (same wording, same punctuation) a phrase or sentence that comes to you. Watch the bit of writing arrive and then either hand write or type slowly, watching yourself record it.

2. Notice all the sensations of writing the bit of language down: the movement of your typing fingers, the pen gripped, the palms face-planting on the warm laptop surface. Notice your breathing, of course.

3. Record the bit of writing precisely as it arrived despite alterations that will almost immediately appear in your mind and on the surface of your breathing. You'll probably hear qualifications, edits, versions, second thoughts, and follow-up notions. They are happening because your intrapersonal or internal voice has been engaged and is reacting.

4. After you've completely written down the bit of writing as it originally appeared, jot down the other reverberations, but don't edit any of the material.

5. To record a phrase or thought exactly as it originally appears means honoring the moment.

6. This activity is a "perfect storm" of mindful writing. It can make you more aware of the present moment and also of the next moment and (because we are writers) all the content that both situations provide.

7. Another outcome from doing this activity is that all-important separation of creating from editing.

8. Yet another is that you're practicing acceptance (a form of writing grace) by continuing to faithfully record a thought which by now has been amended or added to.

9. This activity is very simple and takes a few seconds. It provides a compact experience of mindful writing.

10. Repeat, not worrying about cohesion (not yet).


Sunday, May 22, 2016

You Write Twice Each Time

Each time a person sits down to write, two texts (minimally) happen, one of which has received nearly all of our attention while the other has been largely overlooked. 

One text is noticed, pursued, and distributed, made visible and external, while the other operates invisibly, mostly outside anyone’s notice, including the writer. 

The first text is part of an external, interpersonal rhetoric that has been studied and taught since the beginnings of writing education. It's the one that's presumably shared with others: the one that has other people as readers. 

The second text is part of an internal, intrapersonal rhetoric that always occurs alongside the external. It usually remains invisible to other readers, and it may be more heard-in-the-head than actually transcribed. The second text is in fact formative to the first. 

Internal writing is actually the primary text because it precedes any external rhetoric which is inevitably the second to be produced. Internal rhetoric is also the most immediate discourse available to a writer: the first on the rhetorical situation scene, its shaping influence on subsequent externally shared writing should not be underestimated. 

Intrapersonal rhetoric is that procession of phrases, images, emotions, prompts, fragments, overheard language, self-generated judgments about writing ability, Vygotskian inner speech, Henry Jamesian stream of consciousness, sensations, after-images, anticipations of audience, and crystallizations of past writing performances. 

This cognitive flotsam and jetsam is important for a whole host of reasons. First, it’s through intrapersonal rhetoric that an individual frames his or her writing ability. Second, it's through intrapersonal rhetoric that a person addresses audience. Finally, intrapersonal rhetoric leads to discoveries of content. 

This inner babble that all of us entertain on an ongoing basis, whether or not we’re particularly aware of it, really is a type of rhetorical constraint and directly applies to the writing situation because it evokes audience, generates content, and affects our perception of purpose.

The next time you write, see if you can sense the two texts you are creating in tandem.