Throughout the process of writing a novel, a writer will inevitably reach points where they can not see in which direction the story should go; or, they do see- only they have no idea how the hell they’re going to get there. Or, their characters remain aloof; mere outlines rather than three-dimensional beings.
And the more one struggles to breakthrough, the more strongly the problem grips its claws. Answers are much more likely to come while in a relaxed state of being.
In the biography The Life of Charlotte Bronte, Elizabeth Gaskell recalled a conversation she’d had with the authoress while staying at her home in Haworth. “I asked whether she had ever taken opium, as the description given of its effects in Villette was so exactly like what I had experienced, – vivid and exaggerated presence of objects, of which the outlines were indistinct, or lost in golden mist, &c. She replied, that she had never, to her knowledge, taken a grain of it in any shape, but that she had followed the process she always adopted when she had to describe anything which she had not fallen within her own experience; she had thought intently on it for many and many a night before falling asleep, – wondering what it was like or how it would be, – till at length, sometimes after the progress of her story had been arrested at this point for weeks, she wakened up in the morning with all clear before her, as if she had in reality gone through the experience, and then could describe it, word for word, as it had happened.”
Actress Zita Johann used a techinque which she called, “The Theater of the Spirit”, which could very well be used for writers. Ms. Johann, mostly known for playing the dual role of the sophisticated Helen Gosvenor and her previous incarnation, The Princess Anck-es-en-Amon in the original The Mummy, held a life-long interest in the occult. As Spiritualists would call upon dearly departed ones, she would meditate and invoke her characters to reach a special depth of emotion. Though the revered stage actress never truly made it big in Hollywood (largely due to her outspoken disdain of Tinseltown), her hypnotic performance in the aforementioned film is unforgettable and gives a glimpse into why she was regarded as, “The White Flame of the American Theater”.
One of my favorite meditation methods when it comes to writing is to think intensely on the subject (or problem) at hand, and then completely let it go by meditating on something totally different: an image, a mantra… Then, hours or days later- the answer pops into my mind as I’m in the twilight state between sleep and wakefulness; or, just as likely, when I’m doing something as mundane as the dishes.
Do you use meditation for your writing?