Whether you write op-ed, humor, lifestyle or other columns, heartfelt expression is a goal. Relaxation unlocks creativity, and I use guided imagery exercises in my writing workshops to mine memories for sensory details and emotions. Self-hypnosis, meditation, guided imagery, and trance are all the same things, and the process is common to you. Surprised?
Daydreaming is common. You enter that place where scenes flash along in vivid detail and outside reality is suspended temporarily. Then you put fingers to keyboard and share what you “just saw.” That’s self-hypnosis, and a deep reverie can be productive. (I bet Pete Hamill is a daydream believer!)
In 1990 I was certified in hypnotherapy because of my curiosity about the mind-body connection. I learned to write guided imageries, using words that soothed the senses, to induce an awake but highly relaxed state of mind.
The greater the relaxation, the more vividly a person can experience memories. One can recall the associated emotions of the time. The meaning of a past experience is made clear. Thus the “therapy” in hypnotherapy, but years later as a columnist, I realized its direct connection to writing.
Isn’t that what we all strive to do under deadline? Our goal is to capture an experience and to bring the reader right into the scene. We endeavor to answer the reader’s question, “Why are you telling me this?”
How else to get to the heart of a story? If you feel it, you can convey it. A meditative state allows you to push all the clutter and chatter aside, and to reach clarity about the point of your story. The stillness is a realm in which to gather up textures, sounds, mannerisms, words, and emotions to enliven your stories.
For years, I thought the idea of meditation was a cruel hoax, because I could never quiet my thoughts. My mind was a gerbil set afire in a bathtub. It felt liberating the first time someone guided me into a meditative state. Now I can return to it any time on my own.
I began offering guided imageries as part of my writing workshops. In 2010 I offered, “Hypnotic Recall Creates Spellbinding Stories,” at the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop. The first day, only fifteen people showed up. The next day, 150 people attended. It was validating to hear that deep relaxation unlocked memories, rich with meaning and vivid with detail. The EBWW invited me back again this year.
So I created “AWriter’s Meditation” CD, which offers two guided imagery exercises that I use in my workshops. It’s gratifying to create a new tool for the storytelling process. You can find out more about it on my website, www.readsuzette.com, the only place it is available.
The path to authentic writing springs from refreshment. Go deeper into the daydreaming process. You owe it to your readers.
Suzette Standring is the author of “The Art of Column Writing” and is syndicated with GateHouse News Service. She is the TV Host of “It’s All Write With Suzette,” a writing program on Milton (MA) Access Cable TV.