Cultivating a sense of presence

For me, writing fiction often boils down to cultivating a sense of presence, of being fully immersed in a scene, of stepping outside of self and into a character. It feels surprisingly similar to runner's high or meditation, only in this case thoughts are displaced by imagination.

Unfortunately, I find that maintaining that sense of presence while writing is usually just as hard as maintaining runner's high while running or maintaining a clear mind while meditating. Transcending self isn't a permanent achievement, but a process of constant renewal.

So when I write, run, or meditate and my thoughts inevitably get in the way, I try to remind myself that distraction isn't failure—distraction is an invitation to practice letting go and returning, once again, to that place of simple awareness, that sense of presence.

Complement with this interview about my creative process, what it feels like to write a novel, and how to overcome creative blocks.

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Eliot Peper is the author of nine novels that explore the intersection of technology and culture. He sends a reading recommendation newsletter, hosts Fellow Travelers, and lives in Oakland, CA.

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