EVENT REPORT It’s All In The Mind

South East Scotland SCBWI recently organised 'A Creative Guide to Mindfulness' event in Edinburgh. Organiser and Co-Chair Sarah Broadley shares what she learnt on the day. Grab a cuppa - it's time to look after yourself.

Chill out. Relax. Sometimes that’s easier said than done.

A small group of South East Scotland SCBWIs gathered in eager anticipation of the event ahead. Questions filled the air of the small room — along the lines of... surely there must be something I can do to stop the whirring of niggling thoughts catapulting around my brain as I try to get to sleep? How do I switch off from a busy day and give my body a break from the hustle and bustle of life? Why do I never have enough time?

Just one word. Mindfulness.

Gwen Bedey, Mindfulness Practitioner. Image Credit: Sarah Broadley

Gwen Bedey, qualified Mindfulness practitioner and one of life’s good people was on hand to help. Gwen is someone you meet who instantly makes you feel calm just by smiling at you. Her soft voice brings our nervous chatter to a stop and we all grin back.

Above the entrance to Central Library on George IV bridge there is a message in the hard granite that towers above as you step through the doors — ‘Let There Be Light’ it says. A message not lost on any of us as that’s why we are here. There must be light at the end of the literary tunnel, whether you’re working on a synopsis, work-in-progress or a first draft, we all have moments where it can all get a bit too much.

How do you prioritise everything? What needs to come first? In your eyes, what is deemed more important? Family? Work? Rest?

You — that is it. You are the most important thing.

How am I? How do I REALLY feel? Questions we very rarely ask ourselves because we are just too busy or perhaps we don’t want to know the answer. Are you making sure your main character has made it to the next chapter in your draft or are your deadlines met within an inch of their timescales or... or… just stop for a moment and think.

Do you sit down to write and then, whoosh, hours have passed and you haven’t eaten anything or moved from the sitting position you’ve been in since breakfast? Eat. Eat and think. And then go back to work.

Anxiety can be a huge weight on our shoulders, it can stop you writing, make you retreat into your cave and never come out again until X, Y, Z is finished. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

What’s the thing that annoys you most about writing? Is it working on a pitch? A synopsis? The middle of your story? What annoys you the most? Now turn it around. This thing that annoys you so much needs to be done, so do it. Using a beginner’s mind, pretend it’s the first time you’ve ever done it. It’s new, it’s exciting. It doesn’t annoy you. Yet. It might be gardening, tax returns, book blurbs... try it from a new perspective.

Maybe it’s all mind over matter, maybe it’s not. What I do know is that I will re-think areas of my life that need to change. For my sanity, I will allow more time for writing in the sand or playing Cluedo by candlelight, things that are more important to my wellbeing than staying up till 1am answering one more e-mail/report/edit. Plan your week ahead and enjoy life.

Be kind to yourself. You’ll feel better and in turn, you’ll be back to enjoying writing and everything else that life has in store for you. What’s not to love about that?

You can find out more about Gwen on Twitter and Facebook

*Feature image courtesy of Sarah Broadley.

Sarah Broadley is co-chair for the SCBWI South East Scotland network along with her partner-in-crime, fellow member, Anita Gallo. She writes middle grade and picture books and can't draw for toffee but will always give it a try.

Website: www.greatbigjar.com
Twitter: @sarahpbroadley

A. M. Dassu is a member of the Words & Pictures editorial team, she manages the Events team and SCBWI BI events coverage.
Contact her at events@britishscbwi.org

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