Unlocking creativity through meditation

by | Apr 13, 2017 | The Writing Life, Writing Advice | 8 comments

I know, I know, I’m like a thousand years late to the party.

I had resisted actively meditating for the longest time.


Look. I grew up shooting crawdads on a rice farm. I may have all the outward appearance of a hippieish liberal coastal elite but on the inside I’m pretty innately suspicious of things that, in rural California, we call “a little woo-woo.”

But my previous employer offered subsidized classes on transcendental meditation (yes, the hedge fund), and I signed on up. The classes were taught by the David Lynch Foundation (yes, the director).

I’ve meditated almost every day ever since.

In addition to reducing stress and all the other well-catalogued benefits, I’ve noticed two profound impacts on my creativity:

It quiets that buzzing voice in your head

We all have running dialogues in our head with tons and tons of *shoulds* (I should do this, I should do that, you should do this, you shouldn’t do that)….

Sometimes that voice in your head can get really, really loud, especially when you should be focusing on things like your writing and that significant other who is moving their mouth in a strange way oh wait they’re talking I should probably listen right now.

Meditation quiets all that down. The voice goes from loud and distracting to more like a manageable whisper.

You have some pretty great ideas while meditating

One of the things I like about transcendental meditation is that you don’t actually try to force yourself not to have thoughts.

Which is good, because sometimes some pretty good ideas pop into my head.

These ideas can occasionally be harebrained — much like being inebriated, sometimes things like a REALLY GOOD IDEA while you’re meditating but when you’re fully conscious they seem a little ludicrous.

Other times, they really do help.

So… just do it. I wish I had started earlier. Whether your idea of meditating is walking through a forest or doing acupuncture or praying or whatever else, just make sure to incorporate some quiet, distraction-free time into your day.

Your creativity will thank you.

Anyone else out there meditate? Any favorite techniques or resources?

I’m available for manuscript edits, query critiques, and consultations! And if you like this post, check out my guide to writing a novel.

Art: The Philosopher in Meditation by Rembrandt


  1. abc

    You have a secret mantra word!

  2. Nathan Bransford

    I do mwa ha ha ha haaaa

    Actually it's not worth an evil laugh.

  3. Jeremy

    "But my previous employer offered subsidized classes on transcendental meditation (yes, the hedge fund), and I signed on up. The classes were taught by the David Lynch Foundation (yes, the director)."

    this paragraph was the best, weirdest, and most incongruous of the post


    “A hippieish liberal coastal elite”? I'd never have guessed!

    Your mantra is an evil laugh? Appropriate for a hedge fund, I suppose.

    As for crawdads, scale them up and they'd make great SF monsters.

    I too resisted (formal) meditation for years, partly for reasons like yours, but more because I simply could not get it to work for me. But I resumed trying last year, with no great success yet, but with hope. I've neglected it recently but will try again. You're not alone among writers in using and recommending it.

    I come from an Irish farming background (after an early childhood in the USA). We raised cattle and barley and beetroot. To us, rice was woo-woo!

    Meanwhile, the voice in my head has a new 'should'. I should be doing more and better meditation!

  5. Puneet Agrawal

    I have meditated regularly, but on and off. And I find counting your breathes (not out loud!) helps when you are a beginner or a re-beginner. All in all, meditation is awesome for acquiring some modicum of control over your mind.



Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Hi, I’m Nathan. I’m the author of How to Write a Novel and the Jacob Wonderbar series, which was published by Penguin. I used to be a literary agent at Curtis Brown Ltd. and I’m dedicated to helping authors chase their dreams. Let me help you with your book!

My blog has everything you need to know to write, edit, and publish a book. Can’t find what you need or want personalized help? Reach out.


I’m available for consultations, edits, query critiques, brainstorming, and more.



Need help with your query? Want to talk books? Check out the Nathan Bransford Forums!