What is Conscious Writing?
When I recently came across a book titled Conscious Writing, I was intrigued to know what that meant.
Its author, Julia McCutchen, founded the International Assoc. of Conscious & Creative Writers (IACCW) to help writers who are interested in spiritual and personal development. Her book combines mindfulness exercises and visualisation as part of writing.
Much of the book isn’t relevant to my writing interests. But I was taken with her views about how to begin a major writing project, such as a book.
- Even if we have a great idea for a book, we may lack confidence about how to develop it. As well, our infamous inner critic can get revved up, to the point that we may despair, thinking I’m not good enough . . . I can’t write . . . I’m not a real writer.
It is this lack of confidence that makes it hard for writers to
- keep track of their aims
- develop their ideas
- establish an appropriate voice
McCutchen suggests that writers undertake two preparatory steps before embarking on a major writing project:
- Start a regular meditation practice
- Assess topic, aim, and readers.
She believes that establishing an ongoing meditation practice leads to calmness and clarity. Developing these positive qualities can help us counter the fears and confusions we often face when we write. With practice, we may even quash our inner critic.
The authors of some how-to books on writing assume that their readers have already settled on theri topic and approach. The books focus on helping these writers develop and improve their material and writing style.
McCutchen believes writers benefit when they undertake a preliminary step, which involves responding to two questions—Why and Who.
Why have I decided to write about this topic?
Why am I passionate about it? What message do I want to convey? What do I want to share with my readers—and why? What’s motivating me to share?
Who am I writing for?
What are my readers’ interests and needs? What kind of experience do I want them to have from reading my ideas, insights, and stories? What kind of link or relationship would I like to make with them through my book?
What’s the value of considering these two questions? Whatever we write, it’s impossible to engage every reader. So why not focus, identifying our ideal or most probable readers?
Answering the two questions can help us plan a writing project that focuses on–
- the readers who are likely to be attracted to and appreciate our ideas
- the kind of relationship we want with them.
How we answer these two questions provides direction, which can help us as we choose and develop content, structure and message.
McCutchen encourages writers to keep a record of their what and who responses. Some people list them, others use mind-mapping. Having a physical record enables writers to keep evaluating their initial responses. Some may find they can hone their original responses and get a clearer sense of their intent and readership.