Writing Can Be Your Meditation


At first I was going to call this blog Writing Can Be Your Medication, but I realized that meditation is a better word. I can’t count the number of letters and e-mails I have received from grateful readers who have told me that reading my books helped them through bad times, whether emotional upheaval or surgery or an illness. I am always grateful in return to hear their comments. It makes sitting for hours at a time in front of the computer and pulling ideas and plots from my often-tired brain worth the effort.

Lately, though, I have realized that writing has also helped me through some bad times … family problems, brain surgery, the loss of loved ones … the list is long. Writing takes me away from reality, and sometimes we need that. A friend of mine teaches yoga and is “into” meditation and how it can soothe the body and the soul. I’ve never done much of that, or at least I didn’t think so. But I am beginning to realize that writing IS my meditation.

Just as closing your eyes and humming or thinking about a quiet garden or whatever helps you relax is a form of meditation, closing my eyes and thinking about the expansive landscape of the American West, the cool, quiet mountains, a soaring eagle, the relaxing sound of rippling waters through a deep canyon … all are a form of meditation for me. And when I write certain characters who are real to me, it’s like being there with them, away from the “here and now” and spending time in “long ago.”

Sometimes writing just seems like work to some. It has never felt that way for me, even when frantically struggling to meet a deadline. It is always a joy, an escape, a form of relaxation. In life we often try to control the lives of our loved ones, wanting them to behave and succeed and be happy and thinking we can make all of that happen for them. It has taken me 72 years to finally realize I can’t do that, and trying has only brought heartache. The only thing I can control is my characters and what kind of story I write. Maybe I’ve spent too many years doing that – creating characters I can control and characters who react just the way I want them to in everything they encounter. Maybe that has led me to believe I can do that in real life. Maybe I have spent so many years in the world of fiction that the world of reality is sometimes hard to take.

I only know that my escape … my meditation … my relaxation … is my writing. I have recently allowed personal problems to shut down my writing. And the longer I go without writing, the sadder I become. Last night I forced myself to get to work on a new story for Sourcebooks, and doing so helped me see that not writing is probably the worst thing I can do when things go haywire in my life. It only feeds the sorrow. Getting back into the lives of my characters and into my beloved western landscape lifts my spirits. We should never allow others’ actions to so deeply affect us that it steals our writing spirit.

Yes, there is a true spirit there, something in our souls that will not allow us to stay too long away from what we love, away from our characters, away from that need to create. It’s only a form of Satan trying to steal your soul and bring strife into your life. Let your writing spirit rise above all of that and banish the Satan who loves to destroy your creativity. Life is too short to waste it mourning the fact that things didn’t turn out quite like you planned. They turn out the way God plans, and we can’t control that. We can only trust that He knows what He’s doing, and leave Him in charge … and go on with our own lives and continue doing what brings us the most joy. For me, it’s writing.

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