Imagine the desire to write as a physical force flowing through you. Leave behind the circling of your mind, and enter into the body. Learn how to listen to the silent language under the skin and translate it into words.
Writing is about desire. It often stems from a time of suffering, when there is something in life we cannot have, a frustration that gives way to creativity.
I’ve noticed in my own writing, that my ideas for fiction often come when I’ve reached a dead end, when there’s a pain or sadness, that I can find no solution to. This feeling dissipates when I get an idea for a short story or a novel. The writing becomes a way of transforming the pain into something positive.
Sometimes fiction does not come easily to me, and I need to work through my feelings in a journal. This writing is almost always about desires, for transforming pain and suffering, for finding happiness.
When I was 17 I noticed that writing short stories filled with so much physical energy I felt like dancing around the room. Later I used journal writing to overcome depression and chronic fatigue syndrome. I noticed that writing seemed to give me physical energy. But I assumed that writing was an activity done with the mind, not the body.
Then I discovered, James Pennebaker’s book ‘Opening up’ and read with amazement, about how writing about significant life experiences leads to improved physical as well as mental health. In his study participants wrote about ‘the most upsetting event in their lives’ for fifteen minutes on four consecutive occasions. In the following six months participants went to the doctor 50% less than those who had written about mundane subjects.
In his book Writing From the Body, John Lee explains how the desire to write is a physical force. This idea is what informs my writing and teaching. That writing is not an act of thinking divorced from the body, but one of feeling. When I write in my journal I try to bring my awareness to the present moment, to sink and ground myself in my body, to become aware of my breathing. That way I can feel the desire to write in my body. I can listen to this feeling, switch off my mind and write what it tells me.
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