Differing Writing Styles

I am one of those people who writes for different venues.  I have been a technical writer of manuals and policy docs, a poet, a prose writer of fiction and non-fiction.  Each style of writing has different conventions and requirements.

I write about this now because I am struggling with switching between styles and how this affects my writing projects.  Because I am writing two different projects right now (a new article and my novel) I am having trouble shifting.  I also have such a long history in technical writing that the conventions of that style leak into all my prose.

As I write my novel, I notice my prose can become quite succinct.  This style is great for a manual or a procedure, but it doesn’t lend itself to creating the space in which the plot is taking place. So, I find myself adding more scenery and more action to the chapters as I go back to reread them.  I think this is one of the reasons it is taking me so long to write it.

As I work on my article I shift between writing the hard facts and setting the scene so the reader can get the feel of the place while understanding the subject.  While my background lends itself to writing the facts, I continually struggle with setting the scene.  I wonder if I am getting to poetic or vivid in my descriptions and if that takes away from the facts.  I have so much to learn about writing articles.

I know there are others out there who write for different venues.  How do you handle the switch between styles?

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Using Writing as Meditation

The word “meditation” often conjures up a person in robes sitting in a cross-legged position, eyes closed, their hands resting on their knees, and chanting, “Oooooommmmm.”  This may be true for many “traditional” forms of meditation; however, there are also many different ways to meditate.  

Generally, meditation is a means to reach your inner realm and create a sense of peace.  A meditation practice allows you to experience aspects of your life without attaching your emotions to them.  In this way, you heal yourself in order to create peace and connect with your Higher Self or the Divine.  

Because meditation requires calm and intent focus, writing most certainly serves this purpose.  The act of writing helps the mind focus on a singular thread, much like a chant or mantra.   Even in those moments when you think you have nothing to say, putting the pen on the paper generates a thought, which leads to another, then another; and before you know it, you have a paragraph.  Just the simple activity of writing and watching the pen leave ink on the page is satisfying.

Joseph Camosy of  http://www.zenpens.com writes that meditative writing is slower and more deliberate than regular writing, “with awareness of the act.”  Concentration is on the words, letters, and the strokes of the pen.  With this in mind, Shunyata (http://creationmeditation.com/) tells me that she started writing because she wanted to be a professional writer.  After a while, she began to appreciate…

…the simple act of writing out my thoughts and feelings as I experienced them in the moment. Over time, writing became a way to explore and be curious about my inner world. Rarely was my daily writing an attempt to produce something. I simply enjoyed giving the notebook the wide, open space of myself. Like meditation, writing became an experience of tending to the present moment. I experienced connection and deep inward appreciation for following the energy inside, whether it was fear, love, shame, pride, anger, frustration, or joy.  So, writing became an experience of bringing my attention inward and eventually, a practice of writing meditation developed – the simple exercise of observing and writing out the inner experience moment by moment.

Some of the different ways to meditate through writing are:

  • Journaling – keeping a record of your feelings and responses to events that occur in your daily life.
  • Automatic (Stream of Consciousness) – just putting words to the page and letting your thoughts flow without editing or focusing on the thoughts themselves.  This can be a very powerful way to get to your true feelings about any number of incidents in your life.
  • Creative – writing a story can help you put perspective to your experiences and find out how you as a person can respond to those experiences.  It can also help you define your overall views and your spirituality.
  • Poetry – often a simple haiku or quatrain can express your feelings or thoughts about a topic or event in your life.  Like creative writing, you can explore your spirituality and your personal development.

These forms of writing are often meditative because they help emotions and issues come to the surface.  Leaving the emotions on paper allows the writer to step back and look at them in a more objective manner, much like Shunyata’s experience. 

Another form of meditative writing is letter-writing.  I don’t mean letters you write to your friends or loved ones, but the ones you write to your Self, or to your Divine Power.  These letters are similar to written prayers about things you want to happen or to effect a change (such as personal or spiritual growth).    

Meditative writing can be a prelude to other creative meditation, such as art and dance, as it did for Sunyata.  She says, “…with creativity I feel completely alive and connected to life energy.”  As a truly personal form of meditation, it can open up a world of possibilities you had not considered before.  Because writing meditation is a different form of mental and physical engagement, you can be more in tune with your own creativity and your true Self.  Shunyata puts it in a particularly beautiful way.  She says for her, “Whatever is alive in you comes out and it’s a great experience in bypassing mental thinking and simply giving full expression to whatever passing through you in the moment.” 

Many people who practice writing as meditation also practice other forms, such as chanting, pranayama, etc.  However, not all meditators of traditional forms practice creative forms of meditation.  For those of us who do, writing (or painting, drawing, dancing, etc.) meditation becomes a more personal path leading to a truer sense of Self.