For many authors, the thought of developing a meditation practice seems very ‘New Age’ and something that you may not have considered yet, for many it conjures up images of sitting cross legged next to a stream while chanting a mantra, and for this reason you may ask ‘well how will it help me write a book?’
And that is a great question, how will it help with your creativity?
Well, first you need to understand the basic benefits that meditation has been proven to give those who practice it.
One – A flow-like state
First of all, it’s been shown to reduce activity in the brain’s prefrontal cortex, this is the area of the brain that helps with making decisions, focusing your attention, organized thoughts, impulse control and anticipating the future. With activity in this area calmed down, the rest of your brain (especially the creative parts) get a chance to communicate better and be more effective, you essentially have access to a bigger part of your brain and can work in a more ‘flow like’ state.
Working at your best and at your most creative tends to come from when you are in a state of flow, here time seems to be irrelevant, ideas come to you easily and your focus is so intense that no distractions bother you.
Two – Reducing Stress
Meditation has been shown to help reduce stress and anxiety, we all know that working to deadlines can be useful, but working in a continuous state of high stress (apart from being unhealthy) does not lead to the most creative outcomes for any author, meditating regularly can reduce this.
Three – Concentration and focus
It also helps with boosting your concentration and focus, as the practice usually involves you focusing in on your breathing (or a mantra), when done consistently over a period of time it slowly trains your mind to become better at focusing without being bothered by outside distractions.
Four – Letting go of your ego
Another benefit comes with its effect on the ego, meditation gives you the opportunity to observe that which is around you without judgement or impact upon yourself, this is important because when you do anything which is creative there can be fear of rejection, and this in some cases can lead to inaction (so your manuscript stays unfinished because ‘what if a reviewer doesn’t like it’?
So, how should you start meditating?
As the countless people who swear by meditation will tell you, starting to meditate can change your life in many positive ways, but if you have never done it before, how does it work and how should you start?
One – Get comfortable
The idea of sitting in the lotus position may work for some, but not all of us, the main thing is to get comfortable, whether you’re sat in a chair or lying down, you should be in a comfortable position which will help you to stay relaxed.
Two – How long should you meditate?
If you have never done this before, it’s probably best to meditate for between 5-15mins (you can increase this as your practice develops, many devout meditators go for several hours at a time, but if you can do 20 – 30 mins per day you will notice a difference), it’s also worth setting a timer so that you don’t have to open your eyes to check the clock.
Three – Breathe
Many people who meditate focus in on their breathing, counting on the inhale and again on the exhale, the reason they do this is to help draw their attention onto something which is mundane, the act of meditating is in letting go of thoughts (which is harder than you may think), so gently nudging your focus onto your breathing can help.
Four – Close your eyes and breathe
Once you are comfortable and have a timer set, close your eyes and bring your attention onto your breathing, breathe slowly and naturally, begin to count on the in breath up to the number four and then count again up to four on the exhale.
Five – Be aware of your thoughts
The goal in meditation is to let go of thoughts and keep a clear mind, which (as mentioned before) is incredibly hard to do at times, you will find that your thoughts wander and this is very natural, so when it does, don’t be hard on yourself, acknowledge the thought, let it go and refocus on your breathing. It may seem difficult at first, but it really is a part of the process, accept that it happens and move back to your breathing.
Six – Try other forms of meditation too
There are other options such as transcendental meditation and even guided meditation (all of which you can find videos on YouTube on how to do), if over time one practice doesn’t work for you, try another.
Standing out as an author in a very crowded market has never been more important than as it is today, so, along with a great book cover design, what else should you use to capture the eye and imagination of your potential reader?
For most authors, the first place to self-promote a book will be through social media. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are great channels to reach large audiences and they all have marketing options which you can tailor specifically for your own budget.
But you will need great content to engage with your readers, content that encourages them to show interest in you as an author (and of course, interest in your book). However, you still need to have a balance of advertising and just engagement, nobody likes being sold at with a stream of non-stop ads, so make sure you also post things that have value and interest to your followers.
Getting back to the advertising, you should be using a consistent brand across your platforms (both online and off), the banner for your Facebook page should look like the one on your Linked-in or Twitter page (you wouldn’t expect Steven King’s social media pages to look different to each other as his publishers know the importance of consistency in branding/advertising).
So, being consistent is important in maintaining your level of professionalism for the way you present your brand to your readers. Now I know that some authors will think to themselves, ‘well, I’m an author, not a brand, why should I worry about this?’ And this is a fair point, however, the most successful authors run the publishing of their book/s like a small business, if you want your book to reach as many readers as possible, you need to level up your way of thinking with regards to self-promotion and branding.
One of the first basic promotional designs that you will need are 3D mockups of your book, these are great in giving a more tangible image of your work and they are easy to share through social media, your website and/or blog.
Banners are the next designs you should have in your advertising tool kit, you can have them for the top of your social media pages, your website, and your blog, again, they give consistency and an opportunity to professionally promote your book.
Promotional posts designed for Instagram, as they tend to be square in layout you should place the important elements within a square template (if you just upload your book’s front page you may have the top and bottom of the image cut off).
You should also look at posting videos and promotional GIFs which will give your book an additional edge. Book trailers can be expensive to make, but GIFs are a little more cost effective for most authors and still work wonders in promotion.
Hopefully in the not to distant future we will get back to having book fairs, signing events and author’s expo’s, at this point you will want to consider getting roller banners, flyers, business cards, post cards and bookmarks.
Book cover designers.
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