Writing as a Full Body Experience

b2ap3_thumbnail_441px-Da_Vinci_Vitruve_Luc_Viatour.jpgPhoto courtesy of Luc Viatour / www.Lucnix.be

Writers learn to work on more than one level. At the same time we’re writing, we’re also reading – we’re both creating and reacting. While my mind keeps track of the story and the character’s progress through a scene, my heart is connected to her mood and my gut is registering tension. All my senses are alert to what her senses would be. (I could add that my hands are typing, but you get the idea.) If I have a character say something that doesn’t suit her state of mind, I get a sense of disconnection which tells me that I have to go back. If the tension flatlines, the first clue is that my stomach has unclenched. To some, this full body approach to writing comes naturally, but it can be an acquired skill. Often I go over a scene numerous times, focusing on three levels in particular.

Next, the gut check: is there tension? Would a reader need to read on? Is there a mystery, a worry, an unfulfilled desire, a conflict, or even just a disquieting imbalance, something that a reader would want to see through? As writers, we must try to anticipate the sensation of reading our work as honestly as we can. To captivate others, we have to captivate ourselves. As you write, is your stomach so tense that the world outside falls away? Or do you find yourself starting to skim? The feedback of your body doesn’t lie. I assign this one to my gut, which is where I actually experience this kind of independent processing. What I’m talking about here, of course, is our identification with our readers.

Last, I return to the mind, which is also where I start. The mind has the biggest job. Character development, dialogue, plot, setting, language, metaphor, the list goes on and on…. Writing is submersive. You have to bring all your talents and faculties to bear. But that is how we can spend so many hours by ourselves at the computer, or with nothing but pen and paper. We carry inside us more than one experience, more than one person. We create a world outside ourselves by expanding the one inside.

For more, please visit ellentmcknight.com.

Comments 2

 
Rosy Cole on Wednesday, 18 November 2015 18:21

I've often thought how fit, preferably in top form, writers need to be. The practice mines everything we have and there's always a major and unavoidable slump soon after finishing a novel. But I really hadn't thought about the physicality of it in the way you present it here.

An interesting insight!

I've often thought how fit, preferably in top form, writers need to be. The practice mines everything we have and there's always a major and unavoidable slump soon after finishing a novel. But I really hadn't thought about the physicality of it in the way you present it here. An interesting insight!
Ellen T. McKnight on Wednesday, 18 November 2015 18:45

Thanks, Rosy! I've noticed that too, but hadn't considered how it might reflect on the involvement of our bodies in the work, other than the more obvious physicality of all those hours in the chair. An intriguing thought.

Thanks, Rosy! I've noticed that too, but hadn't considered how it might reflect on the involvement of our bodies in the work, other than the more obvious physicality of all those hours in the chair. An intriguing thought.
Already Registered? Login Here
Guest
Saturday, 19 January 2019

Captcha Image

Latest Comments

Ken Hartke Telephone Nostalgia
17 January 2019
I have never liked using the telephone. Too often it brought bad news and holds some of my most pain...
Rosy Cole A New Life
17 January 2019
How to gain a whole new perspective on the life lived. That journey in itself would be full of surpr...
Rosy Cole Telephone Nostalgia
17 January 2019
'Nostalgia' is, perhaps, the operative word here. Time has stolen those days. I do wonder whether th...
Stephen Evans Telephone Nostalgia
16 January 2019
I actually dread phone conversations - they seem to me the worst of both worlds. You don't have time...
Katherine Gregor New Year Resolutions?
08 January 2019
Oh, my goodness, yes. Absolutely. May the New Year bring you as much "You time" as you need, Rosy!

Latest Blogs

It suddenly occurs to me that it's been months since anybody called our landline.  Except for my mother, of course.  Day after day, when I check the p...
I'm Ivan Musto and today was a strange first for me as I celebrated a near-solitary birthday, my 90th - a milestone, I guess. Let me explain the surro...
Dublin, Ireland Early morning, Thursday 4th February 1960   We’re alone together. Mother and I are sitting at the kitchen window. It’s chilly yet...
I've binned my 2018 New Year's resolutions. Unopened.  They were past their use-by date.  Somehow, they ended up being kicked under the bed or falling...
My new novel The Isand of Always comes out today. It's a sequel to, or perhaps more an extension of, The Marriage of True Minds, whch was published ab...