A 2-Minute Retreat for Writers

guided meditation for writers with anxiety

But first, the publishing stories worth reading this week:

6 Strategies for Getting Your Book Published (Chad R. Allen): This is a must-read post for nonfiction writers. Because it’s true: there is a very set, step-by-step formula for getting a book deal. That’s not to say the steps are easy, but if you stick with it and follow Chad’s advice, you will see agents and editors come a’knockin’!

20 Signs You’re the Biggest Book Nerd in Your Friend Group (Jen Harper on BarnesandNoble.com): “So you think you may be the biggest book nerd in your squad? We’re here to help you confirm it.” I have to say, none of these applied to me. I also have to say: that’s a complete and utter lie. I am guilty, guilty, guilty.

The Top 4 Secrets to Keep Book Sales High Post-Launch (Chad Cannon): “One of the biggest misbeliefs I see in the publishing world is that you can push a book into the marketplace with an awesome launch plan…and then just call it done. The reality? Marketing is never done.”

100 Must-Read Books About Books (Margaret Aldrich for Book Riot): If you love to read books about books (me, me, me!), you need this list. And if you’re fascinated by design and book covers, take a peek, too. Do you see how the cover and title for The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is so similar to the cover and title of the big bestseller in the category, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society? THAT is how you signal to readers that if they liked that book, they’ll like this one, too. And it works. Broken Wheel was just added to my to-read list.

Everyone’s Getting Into Video. Should You? (Jane Friedman on Writer Unboxed): “Unless you’ve been garreted away working on the Great American Novel—and maybe you have!—you’ve probably noticed that video is becoming a big deal…As a writer, should you care? And if you’re interested, what’s next?”

A Two-Minute Retreat for Writers (& A Book Deal Announcement!)

meditation for writers and bloggers with anxiety

A writer’s life is filled with anxieties. Really, the life of anyone who puts their work out into the world is filled with anxieties. Will people like it? Is it any good? Will it succeed? Will it have impact? Should you shred it right now because, oh wow, this is terrible?

I’m a firm believer that 80% of the creative battle is won in the mind. I see it all the time—the most successful authors have fought those show-up-and-just-do-it battles early in their careers, and they’ve made peace with the fact that their work isn’t for everyone.

Even some of my sweetest, softest-hearted authors will laugh about how you can’t please everyone on the Internet. And if you can’t please the Internet masses, you sure as heck can’t please everyone in publishing.

Literary agents know we can’t please every editor with every project. Editors know that not every reader will pick up the book they labored over. And even the most successful authors know there will always be that one troll who will leave a nasty review for the book they poured their heart and soul into.

There’s always that one troll, right?

So let’s just make sure that one troll isn’t also living within us, regurgitating all the cruel things we can summon up: that we’re not good enough, fast enough, smart enough, efficient enough, talented enough, enough of anything, really.

That’s why I think you’ll love the book I’m announcing today—on its surface it’s a yoga book, but in truth, it’s a deep dive into the way our minds work and how we can make them work for us, rather than against us, in our creative lives.

How to Listen Deeply

Deep Listening by Jillian Pransky is structured as a 10-day retreat to calm anxiety, clear chronic stress, and open you to a mindful life. Think of it as a writer’s retreat for the mind, body, and soul, where you’ll be invited to pause, truly slow down, and tune in to what your body and mind are telling you.

We found a wonderful publishing partner in Rodale—here’s the official deal listing:

Jillian Pransky book deal

I’m so incredibly excited about this book, because I know I’ll learn so much from Jillian (and I think the whole world could be a slightly better place with her work!). Even just working on the proposal felt like a breath of fresh air—each time I opened our working Word document and read her words I felt a little bit more relaxed. (Don’t we wish we could feel that way every time we opened up a #WIP?)

I know many people see yoga as just another exercise class, like barre or crossfit. But the beauty of this book (and true yoga) is that it’s about so much more than striking a perfect Warrior I or hanging out in child’s pose.

Just like typing is only the physical act of writing—the tip of the iceberg of what’s going on inside the mind—physical poses are only 10% of what’s really happening in a yoga experience led by a masterful teacher.

I was lucky enough to have a few great teachers when I first tried yoga over 6 years ago. I was working at a publisher in New York, constantly overwhelmed by work and anxious that I would fail, forget an important task, or just not produce good enough work. In short, I was a ball of stress and anxiety, and it was not only limiting my productivity but also making me a pain-in-the-butt complainer, over-analyzer, and generally high-strung person.

Ask Jarrett. He had to listen to me whine for, oh, two years or so. Lucky guy.

But then I found a wonderful yoga teacher, and I found myself craving the relaxation and release I could get only from being on the mat. I’d leave work late and go straight to my studio, desperate to get distance from the thoughts and worries of the day. I was horrible at the poses—I have genetically stumpy hamstrings that mean I can barely touch my feet (seriously!)—but the mindfulness of yoga changed my life.

So if you’ve ever tried a yoga class but never gone deeper than poses, Jillian will be your saving grace. And if you’re a writer or blogger looking for a new set of tools to fight those creative battles, try meditation with a masterful teacher like Jillian.

Jillian has walked thousands of people of all backgrounds, ages, and levels, through this process of transforming their lives through classes, workshops, and trainings (both in the US and all over the world), on video, in magazines (through articles and interviews, both in print and online), and in a popular TEDx Talk.

I think one of her greatest strengths as a teacher is that she can connect not only with those we often think of as “woo-woo” New Age spiritual seekers, but also with anyone from the corporate or creative world who’s searching for more meaning in their life. (And isn’t that everyone?)

Her technique is especially fascinating because it integrates so many scientifically validated tools: centering, breath work, guided relaxation, mindfulness, movement, narrative journaling, meditation walks, spur-of-the-moment reset switches, and other useful practices.

Once you start learning some of the techniques, they come together to kick in the relaxation response, which balances the nervous system and calms the mind. This deeper level of relaxation has been shown to lift immune function, enhance the process of digestion, and set the whole body up for deep healing, growth, and repair. It also helps you release habitual tension (you know, the hunched shoulders and clenched jaw of leaning over a keyboard), making you more comfortable and at ease in your body.

The beauty is that you can get the benefits of a mindfulness practice in just a few minutes a day (my favorite phrase of Jillian’s is that A Little + Often = A Lot!).

So if you’re feeling tense and stressed, or if your brain is going in a million directions, try this guided meditation right now:

2-Minute Retreat + Recenter for Writers

  1. Settle back into your chair. Be in an easy, comfortable position. Close your eyes.
  2. Release a couple of long exhales out through your mouth. With each exhale, allow your weight to drain down from your head and shoulders, into your seat and legs.
  3. Just as the sand in an hourglass drains from the top half to the bottom, imagine, all the heaviness, all the ‘sand’ in you, draining from your head, shoulders, and torso, down into your bottom half. Allow your weight to rest heavily in your seat.
  4. Move your awareness back to the chest center.
  5. Welcome the breath into your clear upper hourglass. As if there is a nostril on the heart, imagine your loving breath moving freely through your chest.
  6. Feel the nourishing breath flowing, caring for you, as it flows in and out.
  7. Slowly open your eyes and move with ease into your next moment.

Whenever you feel the welling up of writer’s anxiety, or anytime you’re in a flurry of thoughts and to-dos, take a deep breath and come back to this meditation.

You’ll find that calming your brain and your body will not only make you more productive, but you’ll actually be able to enjoy whatever you’re working on, rather than just rushing through it on your way to the next thing.

And yes, it works for kids, too! iI your rugrats are driving you up the wall and need to relax themselves a little, try these wonderful child-friendly meditation exercises that Jillian shared on the New York Times Well blog.

Here’s wishing you a relaxing and productive writing week!

meditation for writers with anxiety

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