Wasting time puts our writing on the back burner. It simmers there as we reorganize an already immaculate pantry, neatly handprint our grocery list, or update that oh-so-very-important calendar to remember birthdays of family and friends. Time wasters. But, tell me your birthdate. I’ll take the time and add it to my list.
My motivation to write personally benefits from the methods to follow. An integral component of my writing process, they got me to the recent finish line of a short story included in The Life Unexpected, An Anthology of Stories and Poems, a collaborative between Just Write and the Women’s Writing Circle, two Philadelphia area writing groups. Although these methods were once labeled weird – considered irrational or based on flimsy evidence – there now exists accumulating data professing their benefits to mind, body and spirit. Try them and see how they work for you.
1) Follow Your Breath
Intentional or not, our stories are influenced by a unique breath of their own. Pay attention the next time you settle into a good read. Notice its breath. Is it jagged or smooth, light or labored, edgy or calm? The breath is an often overlooked instrument to finding rhythm in our writing.
The intimacy of connecting to our breath unlocks creativity. Use a breathing practice to find your neutral breath. Sit comfortably, eyes closed. Simply breathe. Touch your palms together in a prayer position or place them lightly on your belly or heart. Let your inhalations and exhalations be long, deep and complete. Feel where the breath meets your body. From this point, you can manipulate its tempo to fit the flow of your story.
2) Savor a Scent
Our sense of smell is tied to memories, bringing emotions to the surface, or for a writer, to the pen. Once inhaled, scents are picked up by thousands of olfactory nerves, creating a range of emotions that calm or stimulate. I prefer using high-quality essential oils in a diffuser, rubbing them into my palms and inhaling, or placing a few drops on a tissue or cotton ball and tucking it under my sleeve. If you’re not in to oils, candles, incense and fresh herbs work well also.
Scents have different effects on people. For the most part, these bring similar results.
- Frankincense has psychoactive properties that increase creativity and inspiration.
- Patchouli houses a strong, earthy scent that aids mental stimulation.
- Basil produces a clear, open mind.
- Jasmine is a flowery scent with aphrodisiac properties, a must for writers of erotica.
Experiment. Pay attention to the feelings that arise. Take in the scents that best suit your story.
3) Embrace Creative Movement
Everyone knows by now that exercise releases endorphins. Many people cringe at the word “exercise.” I’m one of them. It’s familiar and lacks imagination. That’s why I call it creative movement. Sounds much more inviting, doesn’t it? All composition has movement, whether Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5, a Mikhail Baryshnikov choreographed ballet, an epic Toni Morrison novel, or your own memoir.
Gentle forms of movement are highly effective for bringing our energies to life. Try these mind-body practices.
- Yoga – I’m not talking about “butt in chair pose” either. Yoga poses will get those creative juices flowing.
- Dance – Geek out to the Electric Slide, work those hips in a serious cha-cha, or go all out for the standard free-style.
- Tai Chi and Qi Gong – Let these low-impact, slow-motion practices combined with focused attention unblock and encourage your flow of energy.
Allow your movement to be joyful, mysterious, sexy. Find whatever style of movement creates a soulful song and transfer that expression into your composition.
4) Activate Your Voice
To develop your writing voice, exercise your physical voice. No need for formal training. A few options:
- Pick a catchy tune and hum it throughout the day. Get used to the sensation of your vocal chords vibrating.
- Buy a kazoo. If you’re familiar with this fun toy, not only do you get the experience of a trip back in time, but humming into the kazoo escalates the sensation of opening energies in the throat.
- It doesn’t matter whether you’re a soprano, alto, tenor or tone deaf. Just belt it out. Sing in the shower if that feels safer to you. Project your voice fearlessly, setting free anything that may be silencing you. Unclog the drain, and let it flow.
Exercising our gift of voice tones communication, both oral and scribed. Sound engages different parts of our brain. Don’t forget to notice the in-between moments of silence. They too, are a component of your voice.
The endless chatter inside our head creates clutter that hinders writing. Meditation calms the overactive mind, gets us settled and centered with focus. Sit comfortably in a favorite chair or cross-legged on the floor. Close your eyes. Imagine your thoughts to be hundreds of shimmering flakes swirling around in a snow globe, their chaotic cadence obscuring the beautiful scene below. Watch the flakes settle one at a time, resting peacefully on the bottom of the snow globe. The discord is tamed, and clarity exposes your storyline.
I practice yoga and meditate daily. Okay, I skip a day sometimes. Same as my writing. My stuffed bookcases contain a variety of ‘woo woo’ sources for all things imaginable. I look at is this way. If someone told me wearing socks on my hands and gloves on my feet while soaking in a tub of heated apple cider vinegar in the north facing room of a two-story house during a waning crescent moon would increase my motivation to write, I’d search for an iPhone moon app and stock cases of vinegar in the garage. Hopefully, these alternative methods won’t seem so weird to you after all.
Be your own writing guru. Fine tune the methods that recognize and free your muse.
How do you charm your pen to the paper?
Terri Kiral enjoys sharing moments of her life and hopes her stories will create opportunities for others to examine and embrace their own. She is a certified yoga teacher (RYT200), a dedicated meditator, avid reader, and eternal student of life. Connect with Terri on Facebook or follow her blog at www.whimsywithinblog.wordpress.com.