A Meditation for Writers: Uncover Character

Feb 13, 2017 | Inspiration, The Highlights Foundation Experience

Laurie Calkhoven is the author of more than 50 books for young readers ranging from award-winning nonfiction early readers to YA adaptations of adult books. Laurie uses meditation at every stage of her writing process from brainstorming story ideas and getting to know her characters to conjuring scenes and revising her work. We hope you’ll find insights using her meditation below.

Have a notebook and pen at the ready and a character in mind before you begin. I often do a simple breathing meditation for 10-15 minutes before I move into the visualization. If you’re pressed for time, you can jump right in. The most important thing is to allow yourself to be surprised and discover new things about your character and your story.

Sit in a comfortable position with your hands loosely in your lap, palms up. Close your eyes and take a few deep, relaxing breaths. Let go of your thoughts and focus on your breath. Check in with your body and see if there are any places where you’re holding tension. Breathe into those places. Let go of that tension.

As thoughts come in, let them go and come back to your breath.

***If you are planning to listen to the meditation, I strongly suggest that you stop reading and do that now. I find that being surprised by the writing prompt at the end of the meditation helps uncover new things about your character.***

Take a few more deep breaths and then envision a warm, relaxing light just over your head. Inhale and let that light come down and touch the top of your head. As you breathe in and out, in and out, let that soothing light begin to flow over your whole body. It comes down over your head and neck, then over your shoulders, arms, and torso, and then finally over your hips, legs, and feet.

Allow yourself to be cocooned by that warm, relaxing light. (If you’re feeling at all claustrophobic, simply expand the light. It can be as large as you need it to be.)

Take another deep breath in. Begin to visualize your character in the distance. He or she is walking toward you, coming closer and closer. Your character is 20 feet away, then 10. Begin to notice things – the clothes she’s wearing, the way he walks, the expression on her face, his general demeanor. See more and more details.

Your character is five feet away and then two, and then he or she steps into the light that surrounds you and is standing right in front of you and then by your side.

Take another deep breath in, and allow your character to step into your body (if this is at all creepy for you, your character can stay by your side). And now your character is ready to tell you something. Something that you didn’t already know.

Your character has a strong memory involving a parent. It can be about a mother or a father. It can be a good memory or a bad memory. It’s a vivid memory.

What is it? Why is it important? Why does it loom so large in your character’s psyche?

When you’re ready, open your eyes and begin writing.

Thank you to our faculty for this Guest Post!

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