Walter Mason is a travel writer and blogger, and the author of Destination Saigon (2010) and Destination Cambodia (2013). He has trained in meditation traditions in Thailand, Taiwan, Cambodia and Vietnam, and teaches courses in Buddhist cultural history and the spiritual traditions of Vietnam.
1. How do mindfulness and meditation support your creative writing practice?
It definitely helps make me more aware of the world around me, of the wonderful things I encounter each moment. It helps me to delight in the small and the commonplace, and to bring a creative eye to things I might otherwise walk straight past. I also like to sit in silence for a little while in front of my computer, set the chime timer on my phone and just close my eyes, asking myself the question: What is it I need to write today? It puts me in a very connected state of mind.
2. What is a writing walk? Where have you practised this technique?
A writing walk takes you out into the field to apply all of the meditative techniques that work perfectly in quietness and stillness, but are harder to apply on the road. I do it often – once or twice a month. I just did one in Adelaide, taking an hour or so to wander with no goal or destination, but the intention to stop frequently and record my thoughts and observations.
3. How can you cultivate play while taking your commitment to writing seriously?
An element of fun always helps, and it definitely lifts the writer and the reader. In learning to laugh at yourself and your creative dreams you can approach the whole crazy process a little more lightly. I want writing to remain a delight, and to remind myself that it is an opportunity to spread love and a few smiles. Even if they are only half-smiles sometimes. Can I put an emoji in here?
Learn how to incorporate mindfulness into your own writing at Walter’s course The Mindful Writer, on 4 x Tuesday evenings: 16, 23, 30 August; 6 September, 6:30-9:30pm at NSW Writers’ Centre.