This fantasy author finds that the words flow more freely in the moments following a meditation session, in which she connects with her writing muse.
by W.L. Hawkin
People often ask about my writing process. “Are you a plotter or a pantser?” is usually the question. First off, you can’t sort writers into two categories. We ride a spectrum with a plethora of changing processes. I don’t know who first coined those terms, but I find the word “pantser” irritating. Writing by the “seat of your pants” intimates you have no connection to your work, that you’re just madly tossing words onto the page in some haphazard fashion and then praying everything will work out.
I’ve taken to calling myself an “intuitive” writer. I don’t outline, but I do have an intuitive knowing of where I’m going, depending on the genre, and I trust my muses will get me there.
I work with a variety of muses: spirit guides (some might call them angels); characters who’ve been rubbed as real as the Velveteen Rabbit; ancestors; other creative souls who dwell in the Collective Unconscious (years ago I felt the presence of Emily Dickinson); a Divine Source Within; and even creatives alive today. Peter Gabriel was one of my muses when I wrote To Kill a King, and inspired the voice of a prehistoric Druid bard.
To connect with our muses, we need to get out of our own way, and into “theta brain.” This is the place of creativity, vision, and inspiration.
A few years ago, I taught a series of classes called “From Spirit to Page: Writing with your Muse.” People came who really wanted to write but couldn’t break through barriers that kept them from getting those words on the page. The biggest barrier is thought.
When I’m tuned into the creative force, I’m not thinking. How do I know?
Characters think, speak, and act in unexpected ways that surprise me. In To Sleep with Stones, I wrote through the deaths of two characters with tears rolling down my cheeks. I had no idea they were going to die.
That’s a deep connection. Thought is analytical, sometimes critical, often judgmental. It can block the creative process. Writers who stare at blank screens are thinking. So, stop thinking and start connecting with your muse. How do you know when you’re connected? Your characters will come alive. Time will stop.
But how do you stop thinking? Meditate. Each session, I talked us through a guided meditation, and then we wrote. Everyone connected with their muses and filled their pages with meaningful words we shared.
Here’s the process I used for our first guided visualization:
Begin by drawing your awareness to your breath, either to your rising chest and belly or the edges of your nostrils. Breathe in cool air and breathe out warm air. Breathe in. Breathe out. Your muscles begin to relax. Scan your body slowly from toes to crown, simply becoming aware of any places you might be holding tension. Pay particular attention to your shoulders, neck, jaw, and tongue. If you encounter tension, just breathe it out until you feel a sense of release, then move on. Continue to follow your breath in and out, and as you do, your body begins to feel heavier and sink like sediment to the bottom of a pool. As your spirit clears and lifts, a soft glow forms around your body. Now, draw your awareness to the space in your forehead directly between your eyebrows and about an inch above. This is the Third Eye, the root of the pineal gland, and the theater of visualization.
Without thinking, pick up your pen or open your laptop, and freely write words and phrases as they come. Don’t read them. Don’t judge them. Just move your fingers. There’ll be time for changes later.
Peter Gabriel was one of my muses, and inspired the voice of a prehistoric Druid bard.
Why does this process work? It’s all about brain waves. To connect with our muses, we need to get out of our own way. Move out of beta and alpha brain, where “monkey mind” dominates, and into theta brain. This is the place of creativity, vision, and inspiration.
I’ve written my last five books using this technique. Sometimes I use music. Sometimes I lay on the floor in corpse position and listen to shamanic drumming. I took a shamanic journey with my hero in To Render a Raven this way, and when it was completed, I wrote it all down. Sometimes, I just listen to my breath. If I ask, “What happens next?” before I go to sleep, I often awaken from delta sleep with scenes playing cinematically. My job is to write what I see and hear. My muses do the rest.
You can do this, too. Trust. Open to the spirit within, and never, ever call yourself a pantser.
W.L. Hawkin is the author of Lure: Jesse & Hawk and the Hollystone Mysteries series. She is a book reviewer and publisher with a background in Indigenous Studies and Humanities. Connect with Wendy at her website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You can also find her on Goodreads.
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