As an aspiring psychologist and general self-care advocate, I have dedicated the past few years toward developing mindfulness. In today’s world, we often do things without thinking about them: we scroll through our social media feeds for hours on end with little purpose, we eat and drink without pausing to consider the texture and taste and healthfulness of our food, and we move from one activity to the next without considering our enjoyment of each event, without taking in and savoring each moment. Mindfulness, on the other hand, encourages us to pay attention, to take note of and to honor our thoughts and feelings. It urges us to listen.
Mindfulness relates to writing in so many ways. When you write that first draft – which sometimes consists of throwing words out just to get them on the page – you can lose some of that active listening. You see your thoughts as they arrive on the page, but you may not see how others will receive your thoughts. While it may feel nice to release your ideas in a cathartic frenzy, if you want your writing to appeal to your target audience, you should practice empathy and imagine how others would view your writing, with only the words they can see on the page.
One of the many things I love about the Writing Resources Center is that we can help you get that mindfulness back. When you bring your paper to the WRC, we sit while you read it, listening to your words as they fill the air. We ask you questions: what do you mean by this interesting yet confusing phrase? How do you think your audience will receive this remark? Does this sentence fit with your overall thesis?
Asking these questions trains our consultees to listen to themselves, to how an audience may interpret their writing. I would argue that we need more of that listening outside of the WRC too.
Imagine – a world in which we all took the time to honor our thoughts and emotions, without judging them or acting on them. I can almost see it now.
(Image via https://www.uhs.umich.edu/mindfulness)