There’s always a moment of resistance. It’s early in the morning, only just light outside. My bed is warm. The person beside me is even warmer. I’m not sure what I’m going to write yet. But I swing my legs out of bed, tiptoe to the place where I practice yoga and write, unroll my mat and begin my sequence.
What possesses me?
The answer is simple. I practice first thing in the morning when I need to focus on my writing. Without yoga, I find both so much harder, if not impossible.
By the time I’ve finished my yoga sequence, I’m able to sit down and begin writing. Actually, I’m usually itching to start by about midway but I’ve learned that it’s better to wait. The final pose in the sequence is Child’s pose and it’s here that I give thanks to the gods of yoga and all my teachers for helping me discover its benefits for my writing.
One of these is understanding that it's best to only concentrate on my writing task for that day. Yoga enables me to hone in on a specific intention and ignore all the impulses to spin off at tangents.
Most of us, when we start writing, have grand visions about what we want to achieve. It’s often these that defeat us. Because we’ve only ever written when we’ve felt inspired, we assume the writing will come pouring out every time. It probably won’t.
The big picture is simply too big for us to grasp.
If we bite off more than we can chew, we’re also far more likely to listen to our fears, all those lovely self-doubts that burble up from our Lizard Brain.
But, think about it: a typical novel is around 100,000 words. If you write every day for a year, that works out as just 274 words a session. It's not magic
I've established a daily routine that includes yoga. I set a time when I write and define the minimum I want to achieve. I’ve also discovered that focusing on one thing at a time – a single plot twist, for instance – is the best way to keep moving steadily forward.
(Should a wild digression pop into my head, I write it down but put it to one side. If it’s worth including, it’ll inevitably find its way into whatever I’m writing at some point.)
Taking my writing one day at a time and practicing yoga also enables me to drown out the fearful mutterings from my Lizard Brain with the clatter of my keyboard tip-tapping.
It also helps me avoid the temptations of Facebook, making endless unnecessary cups of coffee and other displacement activity.
If you’ve always wanted to write but don’t know where to start, being able to focus is invaluable. Yoga is the perfect way to concentrate the mind, and the body, on the immediate writing task in front of you. If you take things step by step, writing every day if you can, you can’t not end up with something.
And the result will be magical.
Discover how yoga can kickstart your writing with me
My yoga for writers online course, offered by the wonderful people at the Professional Writing Academy is designed to help anyone who writes use the power of yoga to get started, get better and become more disciplined in your writing. Find out more here.