Why we shouldn’t be mindful all the time.

June 19, 2019

I went to a big writer’s conference at the time I was writing Beach Glass. There were hundreds of writers there, some of whom were writing their first book, some who’d written dozens, and everyone in between. Nora Roberts gave the keynote address. She spoke to a packed ballroom of people so rapt they didn’t blink when she spoke, afraid of missing even one grain of wisdom from an author who has written, at most recent count, 225 novels. I was one of the unblinking masses, yearning to learn her secret.

And she shared it, Nora did. “People always ask me, ‘What’s the secret of writing?'” she said. Hundreds of butts took a collective scootch forward on their chairs. “And I tell ’em, ‘There’s only one thing: Ass in chair.‘”

She’s right, of course. Nora Roberts didn’t write over two hundred books by procrastinating. But there’s another important part of writing that’s just as important as having your butt (or, as Nora said, your ass) in a chair. And that’s having your head in the clouds.

We’re always told that having our heads in the clouds—daydreaming, I mean—is wrong. Teachers say it, and now the buzzword is mindfulness. It’s as though we have to be hyper-vigilant and aware of every single sip of tea.

If I’d followed that advice, I never would have written Beach Glass. Or any of my other books, for that matter. It was by daydreaming that I turned a visit to a shore town full of surfers into a story about a man in love with adventure, who doesn’t really know what he’s running toward, only that he’s running away—until he finds a reason to stay. If I’d stayed entirely mindful that weekend, I would’ve focused all of my attention on every single bite of my tacos. I mean, they were delicious, but it was by staring off into space that Beach Glass‘s hero, Carson, began to take shape.

Daydreaming helps you tune into your intuition, make new plans, think creatively, see a bigger sky. And write. If you want to write, yes, introduce your butt to a chair. But take the time to let your head wander into the clouds, so that when you do sit down, you can write your dreams.

To read the opening chapter of Beach Glass, click here.

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