Becca asks: So, how about you? Do you find that physical activity inspires your creativity? What’s works best for you – walking, running, dancing, kickboxing? How do you get in touch with your body, and use that awareness to inform your writing? How do you keep your body and mind in balance?
The mind body connection has always fascinated me. For those who don’t believe that such a thing exists, I ask if you have ever been afraid? That rush of adrenaline that floods your body comes from a thought that you are in danger. Or perhaps you’ve been turned on by an erotic story or movie. Mind, body- it’s all connected. So as a writer who uses her mind, I’m always looking for ways to tune into my body and use it to help my creative process.
First, I need to exercise. Moving my hand across a piece of paper or the keyboard does not qualify as aerobic activity. I work out about five days a week. Sometimes four, maybe six. It’s part of what I consider my triad of health. Exercise connects me with my body, writing with my mind, yoga and mediation with my spirit. If I let go of one, I lose focus. Lose my emotional balance. If I don’t move my body it starts to feel sluggish which leads to my mind feeling sluggish which leads to very few words getting onto paper. In the winter, exercise is especially important. It keeps the winter blues at bay.
Most mornings I do a twenty minute yoga routine that ends with a five minute meditation. I don’t belong to a gym. I have lots of tapes that I rotate that incorporate aerobics and weight training for about fifty minutes each. I always end up feeling clear headed and energized, two valuable assets to the creative process. I also walk, jog, ride my bike in the summer, shovel snow in the winter. It’s no longer a chore to make myself do it. I’ve been doing this for two years now. Even when I go on vacation I find a way to workout.
I also get a massage every other week. It’s a luxury that I made room for in the new budget that I set up once the economy tanked. It’s relaxing, balancing and often ideas for characters and stories drift to me as I lay there.
Walking is another activity that untangles the knots in my mind. If I feel stuck in a story I often go for a walk, not to exercise my body but to stimulate my brain. The even rhythm allows things to settle and ideas rise to the surface. At the very least I come back energized and re-focused.
Dance is something that I am feeling drawn to lately. I once had a childhood friend who told me I sounded like an elephant as we all did the locomotion in her basement. And one charming boyfriend in college took it upon himself to “teach” me how to dance. Up until that point I had pretty much enjoyed myself out there but in his eyes I apparently lacked a certain rhythm, not that I was Elaine or anything from Seinfeld but he sure made me feel like it. Anyway, I have this urge now to take ballet in order to feel graceful in my body. Or perhaps ballroom dancing with my husband.
Exploring other art forms is nourishment for the art form you practice. I took singing lessons once. I always told myself I couldn’t sing and I thought that getting in touch with my physical voice might help with my writing voice. It did. To me dance is all about being totally in the moment and unselfconscious. How could that not help my writing? This dancing seed was planted back when I read Twyla Tharp’s book “The Creative Habit”. She is a dancer and choreographer but the book can be applied to any art form or creative process.
Sleep is critical to my overall well-being. I naturally sleep eight to nine hours a night. Seven is pushing it. Six and it’s nap time.
The last way I stay in touch with my body and use it in my writing is by becoming aware of bodily sensations that come up with strong emotions. Writing about being afraid or nervous keeps it pretty abstract. It grounds a scene for me to focus on what the character feels in her body and to do that I need to be aware of what I feel in my own body. Do I twist my ring when I am nervous? Rub the back of my neck when uncomfortable? Being on the lookout for these sensations also helps me ride out the wave of emotion. It takes me out of my head and all the stories I tell myself and into the moment, into my body.
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