The Mindful Approach to Better Writing

Mindfulness. By now, almost everyone has heard of it. Most know its benefits. Few actually make it a habit.

I’m guilty. I’ve read about it, am aware of what it can do, have failed multiple attempts to practice it daily.

I have trouble quieting my mind and doing nothing. When I’m washing dishes, cleaning, or exercising, I’m usually listening to podcasts or music at the same time.
Recently, I heard someone stress the importance of listening when conducting an interview with a source or covering a story. Listen seems obvious, but it’s something many people - myself included - forget. Too often, we ask too many questions or try to fill uncomfortable silences.

Part of listening better is paying attention. I have trouble with attention. My mind wanders. I’m a daydreamer prone to flights of fantasy. Paying attention requires me to pay attention to my thoughts - again obvious, but easier said than done.

When I recently covered an event, I made an effort to listen and pay attention. When my mind wandered, I guided my attention back to the present moment. I took in the walls - the paint colors, the hanging paintings, the table, the lights, the door, the floor, the soap dispenser in the bathroom, the glasses on the tables.

I didn’t plan my article in my head. I listened to what the people at the event said without thinking of what I would say in response. My attempt to pay attention wasn’t a total success. It wasn’t a total failure either. I found writing about the event came with ease, even though I took home far less written notes than I usually do.
Writing is good for attention. Attention is good for writing. I doubt I’ll start meditating every day, but I think I found my own path to mindfulness.

Source: Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash