Interview with Lisa Ellison

January 13, 2014 by School of Medicine Webmaster

Lisa EllisonThe Mindfulness center recently caught up with Mindful Writing Class graduate Lisa Ellison whose piece, “Waste Not, Want Not” took second place in an online writing competition conducted by Writer Site.

Why Has Meditation/Mindfulness Become Important to You?

I think I really began a conscious interest in mindfulness/meditation when I was in my early thirties and started doing yoga. I loved experiencing the silence of just being in a pose, focusing on the breath, and allowing myself to have a break from my thoughts. The more I practiced, the better I felt.

How Did You Hear about The Mindfulness Center?

Prior to moving to Charlottesville, I had heard that there was a large mindfulness community, but I wasn’t sure how to access it once I got here. So, I sat down at my computer and Googled Charlottesville and mindfulness. That’s how I discovered the Mindful Writing Course.

How Did The Mindful Writing Course Influence Your Writing Practice?

The Mindful Writing Course has had a huge impact on my writing. I’ve actually been writing for many years; however, prior to taking the course, I would say my writing practice occurred in spurts. I would write for six months really intensely and then life would get busy and my writing would move to the back burner –sometimes for years. Since taking the Introduction to Mindful Writing Course last January, I’ve kept a pretty consistent writing practice. Meeting regularly with other writers who also attended the course has certainly helped keep me motivated, which has been a huge blessing. We’ve all become great friends, for which I’m deeply grateful.

I have noticed that the quality of my writing has improved significantly. In the past when I sat down to write, I was conscious that I was creating a product to share with others. During the Mindful Writing course we wrote just for the sake of writing. It was all about the process of sitting still, being aware, and allowing words to reveal themselves as the pen slid across the page. Focusing more on the process rather than the product has helped to silence the internal editor that nags me as I’m free writing. I’m no longer wondering about an appropriate audience, the tightness of my language, and or whether or not what I’m writing is any good. Interestingly, the more I write without expectation, the more I generate pieces that I feel are worth finishing.

Do You Recall How Your Interest in Writing Originated?

My earliest memories of writing put me smack dab in the fifth grade where I learned to write paragraphs. We were allowed to use erasable ink pens, which I thought was awesome and so grown up. I remember writing this paragraph about the snow outside the window of my classroom. I struggled with the form – pouring over the topic sentence as I struggled to tie together details that would form a cohesive thought. When I was done, I sat back and realized that writing gave me a voice and allowed a space for beautiful things, which felt amazing. This interest continued to develop as I entered middle and high school. I think I took ownership of my identity as a writer during my senior year in high school. I think the most important lesson I’ve learned over the years is that you can’t expect too much from any creative art. The more you expect from it, the more it feels like work, which muddies the process.

Do You Have a Specific Writing Style, and How Would You Describe It?

I write mainly short stories and poems. My work oscillates between humorous and deeply emotional pieces. I like to focus on the energy that develops when humans are in relationship with one another.

Is There Anything You Find Particularly Challenging about Writing?

Sitting down to edit my work is my greatest challenge. I can think of a million things I’d rather do. When I sit down to edit, I know I am creating a product for an audience, which invites my pesky internal editor. I have a habit of pouring over each word, which can cause me to get stuck in my head. I am working to attend to this task as mindfully as I do my daily writing practice –focusing on non-judgmental acceptance of the process.

When Not Writing, How Do You Spend Your Time?

When I was getting my Bachelor’s in English at the University of Louisville, I attended a writing seminar with the poet Frank Bidart. Another participant asked him how a writer should spend his or her life. His response – write a lot, read a lot, and really live your life. I thought that was great advice and have tried to following it ever since. I focus on being present in my life and in my relationships. The more I stay grounded in the present, the more I enjoy my life, and the more I have to write about when I do sit down and pick up a pen.

You can enjoy Lisa’s piece at , and don’t miss out on your own opportunity to develop your love of the written word. Check out our schedule for new Mindful Writing class opportunities.

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