Embodied author
Contributor
Written by
Tantra Bensko
January 2014
Contributor
Written by
Tantra Bensko
January 2014

I read a lot about the craft of writing that I enjoy, but it sounds to me relentlessly cerebral, to the point of being disembodied. I think of writing as being produced by us within our bodies. Authors like to talk about drinking alcohol, staying up all night, pushing themselves for days straight, and partying at AWP. Those can produce great work. There are other uses of the body that help writing excellency in different ways.

Getting enough sleep helps prevent typos and mistakes, keeps the plots grounded, helps you make better choices of whether to hit "submit" before re-writing.

Taking care of your adrenals helps you write from strength, rather than from whatever stimulant you're using to overcome the fight or flight response, the bodily fear that keeps you going when you need rest and recuperation.

Eating a balanced diet prevents the groggy-headed mush that makes you want to go to bed after too many carbs and makes you no longer want to ever read your favorite genre again, as nothing is any good.

Getting exercise helps you write muscular prose about action heroes, rather than from the mild perspective of Sedentary Hero. It also generates new brain cells.

Getting sunshine keeps your intelligence and your mood high enough to create masterpieces.



My specific interest is in how to use the body when you're doing creative writing. I like to dance to a made-up soundtrack before writing to get in the mood to play the right notes on the keyboard to delight the reader's skin, and make her heart ping-a-ling. I like to act out the plot arc, the effect on the reader via a kind of interpretive dance for a purpose that I call LucidPlay. I like to improve the characters interacting, learning what movement quirks they might have, and facial gestures, to include in the descriptions. I feel out who they are and thus what choices they would naturally make, find myself be driven with more fire by their desires, from the inside out.

I include this in some of my writing Instruction as well as using it myself, especially for longer works. I feel we all probably write a little better from a stretched and activated body when it's possible to do so. I know very well reasons for it not being possible, so this isn't meant to make anyone feel problematic. But for those who can stand up once in awhile, or fling your hands and get the lymph stuck in between the ribs to flow out, writers block and blocks to feeling and inspiration can clear out. You don't have to do it where anyone sees you. You can stay cool.

Let's be friends

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Comments
  • Lira Kay

    Agree. The partying disrupts me. I find it especially annoying not to have a clear enough mind the next day. :-)