Saturday, December 18, 2021

Mindful Writing Mantra Assignment

 


Design a Mindful Writing Mantra 

[Below is the capstone assignment I give to undergraduate and--with modification--graduate students enrolled in Mindful Writing or Mindful Writing: Theory and Practice. In a subsequent post, I'll be sharing, with students' permission, excerpts from this semester's mantra essays. For background, I'd like to suggest my article, "Mantra of Intention," published in New Writing: International Journal for the Practice and Theory of Creative Writing and forthcoming in an edited collection from Routledge.]

Overview:

The etymology of “mindfulness” is to “remember to remember.” Meditators use a variety of techniques to remember-to-remember, including meditation bells and mantra, or a verbal saying that is repeated or becomes the object of reflection. Ideally, a mantra should be paired with breath-watching, with mindful breathing encoded in the mantra, for example, “Breathing in, I know I am here; breathing out, I know I am here now.” Here’s one of my mantras: “Your Ability to Write is Already Present.” Here’s another, “Present moment, breathing moment, writing moment.”

A mindful writing mantra draws our attention back to the present moment. Resultant changes in our outlook and emotional state can happen within seconds of repeating a mantra, in part because the mantra steers our internal talk, which probably up until that moment had been free-ranging, widely discursive, its self-pathos rhetoric goading us into all sorts of additional mental formations and storylines about our writing.

This project involves designing your own mindful writing mantra in the context of an extended exploration of mindful writing theory and practice. The intent is to make your mantra something you would actually display on your desk or wherever you tend to write—as an object, as a sign, possibly as jewelry—and build that mantra on sound mindful writing concepts.

Stages:

Prewriting: done in class on Thursday 11/18/2021.

Very Rough Draft (minimum 1,000 words) due on Tuesday, 11/30/2021, emailed to apeary@salemstate.edu by class time to receive credit (graded as Complete/Incomplete). No late drafts will be accepted for credit to discourage procrastination (manage that through mindful writing!).

First Draft (minimum 2,000 words) due on Thursday, 12/2/2021. emailed to apeary@salemstate.edu by class time to receive credit (graded as Complete/Incomplete). No late drafts will be accepted for credit.

Second Draft (minimum 3,000 words) due on Tuesday, 12/17/2021 or Thursday, 12/7/2021, depending when your piece is slated for feedback. emailed to apeary@salemstate.edu by class time to receive credit (graded as Complete/Incomplete). No late drafts will be accepted for credit.

Writing Mantra Project (minimum 3,500 words) due by 9 AM on Monday, 12/13/2021. Send as Word attachment.  Doublecheck that I received your project: if you don’t see an email from me on the evening of December 13 indicating that the document was received, it’s your responsibility to contact me immediately to prevent grade point deduction. No projects will be accepted after Tuesday, December 14. Look for emailed feedback and a grade by Friday, December 17.

Steps:

1. Design of a mindful writing mantra:

§ Design the rhetoric of your mantra.

§  Design a visual appearance for your mantra. The examples of mindful calligraphy (from Thich Nhat Hanh) at the top of this exercise sheet are each inside an almost-closed circle. It’s called an ensō. Take a picture of the drawing (or visual elements) or describe how you would design its visual appearance; if the former, email me the picture along with the project.

2. Create a 3,500+ word exploration of mindful writing, connecting your mantra to concepts from the course. Write this in any style that you wish (need not be conventionally academic in tone). Do connect your mantra to course concepts, citing readings, and cover a significant portion of the following:

intrapersonal rhetoric (role in invention or coming up with new material; self-pathos: preconceptions, storylines, mind waves and mind weeds; role in audience proximity—audience demons and ghosts);

verbal emptiness (nonverbal and prewriting);

impermanence (role in invention; groundlessness; interbeing; role in revision);

embodiment (role in invention; verbal emptiness)

mindlessness (non-productive and productive states in your writing experience).

Additionally, address how you plan to use your writing mantra to chip away at writing-related mindlessness. Mention specific phases in a writing process (prewriting, invention, drafting, revising, feedback, editing, etc.) during which the mantra might be useful and how that application might unfold.

Helpful Hints:

·         Use multiple examples from your writing life (brief or extended);

·         Use multiple examples from assigned readings;

·         Talk about your process of creating your mantra;

·         Possibly talk about using the mantra to complete this final project or another writing assignment at the end of this semester: show your mantra in action, whether literally or hypothetically (or both).

Stages:

Prewriting: done in class on Thursday 11/18/2021.

Very Rough Draft (minimum 1,000 words) due on Tuesday, 11/30/2021, emailed by class time to receive credit (graded as Complete/Incomplete). No late drafts will be accepted for credit to discourage procrastination (manage that through mindful writing!).

First Draft (minimum 2,000 words) due on Thursday, 12/2/2021. emailed by class time to receive credit (graded as Complete/Incomplete). No late drafts will be accepted for credit.

Second Draft (minimum 3,000 words) due on Tuesday, 12/17/2021 or Thursday, 12/7/2021, depending when your piece is slated for feedback. emailed by class time to receive credit (graded as Complete/Incomplete). No late drafts will be accepted for credit.

Writing Mantra Project (minimum 3,500 words) due by 9 AM on Monday, 12/13/2021. Send as Word attachment. Double check that I received your project: if you don’t see an email from me on the evening of December 13 indicating that the document was received, it’s your responsibility to contact me immediately to prevent grade point deduction. No projects will be accepted after Tuesday, December 14. Look for emailed feedback and a grade by Friday, December 17.

Steps:

1. Design a mindful writing mantra:

§  Design the rhetoric of your mantra.

§  Design a visual appearance for your mantra. The examples of mindful calligraphy (from Thich Nhat Hanh) at the top of this exercise sheet are each inside an almost-closed circle. It’s called an ensō: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ens%C5%8D Take a picture of the drawing (or visual elements) or describe how you would design its visual appearance; if the former, email me the picture along with the project.

2. Create a 3,500+ word exploration of mindful writing, connecting your mantra to concepts from the course. Write this in any style that you wish (need not be conventionally academic in tone). Do connect your mantra to course concepts, citing readings, and cover a significant portion of the following:

intrapersonal rhetoric (role in invention or coming up with new material; self-pathos: preconceptions, storylines, mind waves and mind weeds; role in audience proximity—audience demons and ghosts);

verbal emptiness (nonverbal and prewriting);

impermanence (role in invention; groundlessness; interbeing; role in revision);

embodiment (role in invention; verbal emptiness)

mindlessness (non-productive and productive states in your writing experience).

Additionally, address how you plan to use your writing mantra to chip away at writing-related mindlessness. Mention specific phases in a writing process (prewriting, invention, drafting, revising, feedback, editing, etc.) during which the mantra might be useful and how that application might unfold.

Helpful Hints:

·         Use multiple examples from your writing life (brief or extended);

·         Use multiple examples from assigned readings;

·         Talk about your process of creating your mantra;

·         Possibly talk about using the mantra to complete this final project or another writing assignment at the end of this semester: show your mantra in action, whether literally or hypothetically (or both).

* Calligraphy by Thich Nhat Hanh

No comments:

Post a Comment