Stretching Words

I wrote a few words, over Christmas. Not many. But a few still. Between the main festivities and the New Year. A few is better than none wouldn’t you agree? All things considered, I hadn’t expected to; my stomach was way, way beyond full, my head, confused, in an alcoholic lag – too many brandy soaked puddings and mince pies on top of glasses of red, white and fizz. After a week’s hiatus, I felt nervous; I hadn’t spoken to my characters. Would they come out to play, dance for me? They were tired, testy even, a week’s sleep evidently too long. I hoped they remembered their parts; I’d arrived at a crucial moment in their story when I had to lay down the metaphorical pen, soldier my way through the ever-growing to do list for the Yuletide celebration.

There are times when writing seems an impossibility, Christmas being one of them. Both my mother and youngest brother were coming to stay; the house was in need of a serious clean from top to toe, extra beds needed preparing, sheets washing, mountains of food – chocolates, cheeses… simply oodles of stuff – had to be bought. How could I create head space when I had to brave the monstrosity of the supermarket run on the 23 rd December? And what was I thinking, shopping two days before the main event? It took over three valiant hours of wearily trudging up and down aisles stuffed with more people than produce. The overload. The stress. I must give credit to The Three Year Old, she raised her game well above mine, her patience holding me just below the rage line, until the pricing gun crashed half way through the shopping. I will say no more. So what was I supposed to do? Under harried circumstances, I didn’t feel I had any other option. And with much reluctance, I packed their bags, and sent my characters on holiday to the back of my mind. A post card wasn’t received.

When I sat down to write, I was quite taken aback, I had expected to bully my fingers into punching the keyboard – I was nervous after all –  but no, the opposite happened, although sated and sleepy and befuddled from so much food and wine, and my characters  irritate – lynched from their five-star break – the words flowed. But of course, I was physically relaxed, my head suspiciously emptied of worry. The sentences tumbling out owed more to simply gorging and sitting on my derriere. Yoga. They owed everything to downward dogs and tree poses and back bending, every stretch both calming and quietly firing my imagination.

I used to yoga for many a year. Had a baby. Then stopped. A bit silly really. And it took until a recent holiday in the Canaries, and a rather wonderful lesson there, to remember how utterly releasing yoga can be. Now I am back on the bend, trying to fit in a few poses every day. It’s working miracles on my writing and arm definition – the bingo wings are retreating – and, I’ve realised how important it is to care for myself around my writing. I’ve taken to going on a short walk or yoga before I sit down to write, and although this eats into essential time, I write with so much more freedom and flow with the daily stresses erased from my body. So this is my real commitment to 2014, my writing resolution, to really look after myself physically and spiritually, and the words will surely follow…

How do you look after yourself around your writing?

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16 responses

  1. For me, writing is looking after myself; it keeps me sane. Allows me to process the everyday, what is and isn’t important and sometimes, lightheartedly poke a bit of fun at myself. Oh and vitamins too. I need to take more of those. Good luck with the well being and writing in 2014, SH. x

    • Me too, I start to go a bit bonkers if I don’t write, but also, for me, if I am not looking after myself properly outside of writing (not doing any exercise, too many late night reading) then it can also have a detrimental effect on it, the words don’t flow as well, they can get blocked. And you’ve reminded me, I need to keep up with the vitamins! X.

  2. Revisiting this from the Writing Warriors link up – thanks for being my first! It is so interesting to think about taking a writing break. All the advice is about daily habits, regular writing but perhaps we need to schedule in proper breaks to allow our brains to breath a bit. Seems to have worked a treat for you!

    • That’s very kind, you didn’t have to :o)…. I do find the odd break here and there very restorative, and when I come back to the page, it looks so much more inviting. A refreshed head can make all the difference. I think with writing you have to find your own rhythm…. forget what well meaning books tell you what to do!

  3. I’m literally the worst person at yoga that I have ever known – completely unbendy! But I think you are very wise to look after yourself and find something that works for you. I also think it’s great that you deliberately took a proper break over christmas, and it sounds as if it really worked for you! My ‘solution’ to writer’s block is usually just to pace around and make endless cups of tea – I’m now thinking I clearly need to throw some exercise into the mix! #writingwarriors

    • It took me a while to get back into it again, but once I did, I couldn’t believe I’d gone without it for so long! And taking a break now and again, really does the trick, and I find I come back to it nice and fresh…. if I get writer’s block, I just make myself write (with endless cups of tea).

  4. I get the highest density of ideas when I’m exercising. And so because exercise is good for me, gives me energy AND gives me ideas I make sure I exercise as many mornings as I can!

    Also, I always have a notebook with me. I think knowing I can put down a thought or a conversation or any kind of new idea means my mind is always locked into the story. I never get writers block. I may struggle on a point but after struggling for a while I just move onto another point knowing the first is in the back of my mind and will get sorted, probably quite suddenly in the middle of the school run–and out comes the notebook to jot it down!

    Glad you got back into the writing post-holiday so smoothly. Feels good to be back, doesn’t it?! 🙂

    • That doesn’t surprise me; mind and body are relaxed so the imagination can wonder. The first thoughts around Four Gigs came from a jog in the park. I have a note book too, but sometimes forget to carry it about – I had another idea for a new story in the natural history museum today, and I didn’t have it on me. If I get writers block, I just make myself write something, that usually gets me through it…. and it’s great to be back!

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