Pico Iyer

In this week’s episode, Brooke and Grant meander through the topic of stillness with Pico Iyer, “arguably the world’s greatest living travel writer,” according to Outside. In an “on-demand” world that demands productivity, especially from writers, Iyer suggests ways to steal little moments, even just pockets of time, to help writers stay fresher, more centered, more intimate. Join us for this treat of an episode to see how you might bring even just a little more stillness into your mind and into your writing.


Pico Iyer is the author of over a dozen books and countless essays, and is revered as an intrepid “intellectual and spiritual adventurer” by The New Yorker. Iyer explores these two intertwined spheres—the inner and the outer—in his writings and in three recent TED Talks, which have racked up some eight million views. Iyer is the author of two novels and ten works of nonfiction. His newest book, Autumn Light, just out in April, is a far-reaching meditation on impermanence, mortality, and grief that draws extensively on his more than 30 years of living in Japan. And then a different yet complementary work, A Beginner’s Guide to Japan, will also appear later this fall.

Action: Practice Stillness.

I need this more than anyone, so I’m personally taking on this challenge to meditate and be still, to cultivate stillness. I know a lot of our listeners have a meditation practice, and that is amazing—and I’m jealous. I have tried over the years to implement this into my daily life and I’ve struggled. Many people have told me that this would be one of the very best things I can do for myself in part because I struggle with anxiety. AND meditation has been shown to support creativity. Studies in neuroscience show that solitary and inwardly focused reflection engages the brain—and that the best ideas come from these moments of solitude, and not when we’re engaged with the outside world. So the action this week is a lack of action—it’s a challenge, really, to get still. I’d like to frame this as a challenge only because that makes it more actionable, so here it is. I challenge our listeners to sit in stillness for five minutes before each writing session for the next week. So all you do is sit and focus on the action you’re about to embark upon—which is your writing. And note whether this practice supports your writing. Report back and let us know—and I’ll be trying this as well.

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