What IS mindfulness? It is conscious awareness of your inner mindset/headspace/psyche self. It’s reached via conscious awareness of your sensory input and thoughts, feelings, actions, and intentions.
That awareness on the surface — and then the immediate sense of self — puts you in touch with your subconscious mind. It is in your subconscious mind where your beliefs, values, and habits lie.
What has this got to do with writing fiction? For me, the characters, situations, and worlds of fiction that I imagine lie somewhere between my conscious and subconscious mind.
To best engage this requires mindfulness. Being aware of my conscious self opens me to greater awareness of my subconscious self.
I’ve been writing fiction since I was 9 years old. Back then, I employed real people into fictional realities. As I evolved, so did my writing. As such, wholly imagined characters (albeit often based on amalgams of real people I know) came into being.
When I began to write the first scene of The Source Chronicles in 1998, in my mind’s eye I envisioned my sorcerer performing an act of impressive magic — which cost him big. From there, everything else evolved — and now I have 2 finished novels, a 3 rdbeing edited, and the 4 thin the series underway.
To bring the subconscious vision of character and story to the page and screen is an act of mindfulness. And that’s because it’s the literal practice of consciousness creating reality.
Consciousness creates (fictional) reality
There are lots of people out there who have vivid imaginations. They dream of strange worlds, amazing places, complex characters, and other fictions unfamiliar to the rest of us.
Some take that and turn them into stories. Many of these permeate reality in such a way that they even lead to true conscious reality creation.
For example — Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek. Many of the fictional items of his future “wagon train to the stars” inspired real creations. Communicators (which is why flip phones were a thing), tricorders, the data pads of Next Generation, and many other fictional tools have become (or are still potentially becoming) part of our reality.
But to get from fictional reality to real reality, we need to have fiction in the first place. Thus, Gene Roddenberry envisioned and wrote Star Trek. George Lucas gave us Star Wars. Neil Gaiman gave us American Gods. Anne McCaffery created The Dragonriders of Pern. In fact, every single fictional world you know is part of your awareness because of someone’s conscious reality creation.
This is mindfulness because the vision in your head tends to be vague. When you start to put it on the page or screen, though, it gains clarity. But to do that you need to consciously create reality.
For every fictional story I share — I think there are probably a dozen more in my head unshared. And that’s a choice. Some don’t get past certain scenes. Or the arc in my head has no good conclusion.
When I sit down and write — even an article like this — it’s an act of mindfulness because mindfulness is awareness of yourself. Ergo — awareness of what is in your head. Writing it out, thus, is a mindful act. Fiction or nonfiction.
Why does mindfulness in writing matter?
Whether I am writing by the seat of my pants or plotting it out (pantser vs planner) I have to think about what I desire to say. Which then translates to what I put on the page or screen.
Words matter. If I mindlessly choose my words, the story I am trying to convey might get muddled. Or I might tell a very different story from what I set out to.
Then, if I am having a problem with a part of my fiction — while I might turn to an outside resource for ideas and information — it’s only how I internalize them that impacts what I write.
In other words, mindful awareness of my inner being. Mindset/headspace/psyche self — tapped via sensory input and my thoughts and feelings — opens me to what’s inside my subconscious mind. Then, I apply my intention — say creating a super-cool alien race — and take action by writing it out. All of which ties to mindfulness because my beliefs and values will impact how I think about my characters and THEIR beliefs and values.
What this all boils down to is this: mindfulness helps make your characters, scenes, situations, and overall story relatable. Because when you can’t relate to the characters or the story — you’re not going to desire to read it.
As a writer, even when you write characters opposite yourself — if you don’t know yourself, how do you know the opposite?
Mindfulness is the key.
And of course, mindfulness being conscious awareness of the self — self-awareness makes you more aware of the world outside of yourself. That, in turn, helps you make your fictional creation relatable.
Is there writing without mindfulness?
There IS writing without mindfulness. But it tends to be much more personal. Also, while the writing itself is not mindful, the result tends to be.
This is stream-of-consciousness writing. It’s not mindful because it meanders, lacks intention, often lacks form and proper grammar, and isn’t sharable. When you practice this you just spew everything that comes to mind.
It’s not mindful because stream-of-consciousness writing is a direct tap into the subconscious. Stuff you haven’t otherwise mindfully sought out awareness of.
For example, I have sat down and written angry, ranty letters to people I will never share. I’ve raged at myself via stream-of-conscious writing to get crap out of my head. There have been journal entries and typed documents that were banged out with no intention or mindfulness to them in the least.
Of course, once you examine what you have written — that is a channel to mindfulness. Why? Because when you read what you wrote with no intention — just exposition — reading it makes you consciously aware of it. Ergo, mindful.
Even when you write without mindfulness — it’s a channel to conscious awareness and mindfulness as such.
What does knowledge of this do?
Why am I sharing this idea with you? Because when you recognize that even fictional worlds in your imagination brought to reality are conscious reality creations — it opens you to greater mindfulness.
Greater mindfulness is greater conscious awareness of yourself and the world around you. That opens you up to not just writing out a story but making it relatable. For example, I was editing something I wrote years ago — and reached a scene where I gave myself goosebumps. Why? Because I had written it mindful of thoughts and feelings and made it thusly relatable.
When people have emotional reactions to things that are a channel to mindfulness. Self-awareness is how each of us, together, close the divides in our society — particularly when you see the potential of opening imaginations for the better.
The notion of dystopian futures is not so that we can HAVE them — it’s so we can avoid them. Do you want to live in a nuclear winter world? I know I don’t. Thus, you see that example and mindfully consider how it’s not what you desire.
Mindfully writing fiction helps you express the idea of your imagination in a way people outside of you can relate to and be inspired/entertained/frightened/impacted by. Because when all is said and done, I intend to leave an impression on the reader.
With fiction, I want to inspire imagination. With nonfiction, I simply desire to inspire.
Do you know what your intent is for what you write?
Originally published at https://www.mjblehart.com on April 20, 2021.