The Write Mindset: Finding Your Drishti -->

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The Write Mindset: Finding Your Drishti

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Admit it—it can be easy to let your mind wander while working on a paper—maybe you get distracted by bills, work, or something else. While this can be inevitable, it can also lead towards more distractions where you aren't working in the present in ways that move you forward towards your future goals. In this blog post, I’d like to share how I used the practice of yoga to decrease distractions and increase productivity while writing my dissertation. 

A hand positioned in a mudra pose

What does yoga have to do with writing? Well, not much really—not directly anyway. For me, though, yoga has served as one way for me to practice mindfulness by working on my drishti—where I focus my attention. In other words, it has helped me learn to stay focused on the present moment, so I could, for instance, sit down and focus on writing my dissertation instead of worrying about x, y, or z—in other words, whatever else was going on in my life.  

When I was working on my dissertation, I was also going through other “stuff” and that other “stuff” tended to take the front seat to the dissertation (seriously, I will save you the details of the “stuff”). Life happens, of course, and sometimes tending to that does need to come first. That said, it’s important to be able to strike a balance among life, work, school, and other “stuff” so everyday life (and not-so-everyday life) doesn’t distract us from working towards our current and future goals, such as writing that dissertation, graduating, and moving on and up in our careers. 

One thing that has helped me find that balance is the practice of yoga. More specifically, yoga has helped me de-stress and practice self-care so that when unexpected “stuff” happens—when just everyday life happens—I feel more calm and mindful so I can focus on both the present (such as writing that dissertation) while also dealing with life and “stuff.”  To be clear, this increased focus has helped me consider what actions I need to take in the moment, so I can both take care of things as they come, move forward through them, and continue towards my future goals so I don’t become “stuck.”

While learning writing skills is important, as both a student and a teacher, I noticed that other skills are equally important—skills such as mindfulness—that we may or may not have naturally acquired. 

For me, like the skill of scholarly writing, mindfulness is something I had to learn and, like writing or any other skill, it takes continual practice. Admittedly, any type of exercise can likely help, but for me, yoga, with its focus on the mind-body connection, has been about working on grounding myself in the present. That said, I wanted to share this strategy that isn’t so much about a direct writing skill, but about self-care that fosters the development of other skills, such as writing.

Have any mindful writing tips of your own? We would love to hear what helps you get into the “Write mindset"! 

Veronica Oliver author pic

Veronica Oliver is a Writing Instructor in the Walden Writing Center. In her spare time she writes fiction, binge watches Netflix, and occasionally makes it to a 6am Bikram Yoga class.

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