All of me, why not use all of me

Word count: 491                   Reading time: 2 minutes   

If you watched the Opening Ceremonies of the 2012 Olympic Games, you might have noticed the fabulous woman percussionist who led the 1,000 drummers. When Dame Evelyn Glennie talks about music as she did in a TED lecture in February 2003, she talks about the physicality of making and listening to music. She is an expert on that subject: in spite of being profoundly deaf by the age of 12, she was accepted into the Royal Academy of Music. She urges us to listen to music, but not just with our ears. She says we should use our bodies as the resonating chamber to experience it. To make better music, musicians must likewise open their bodies to find the music that isn’t on the page. They must interpret and translate that which others cannot see.

After watching that talk, I wondered how writers might use their bodies to be resonating chambers for a more physical experience of writing. Is there a way to break out of the narrow space between our fingers and the screen? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Write with pen and paper. (How many times have you heard this? Still, Natalie Goldberg and the dozens of others who recommend it are right. It does give a closer, more intimate connection with the art).
  • Stand up to write occasionally. Being a chair warrior is an inevitable part of writing but standing opens the body and in doing so, it opens the mind and imagination.
  • Write in bare feet, to stay connected with the ground.
  • Cut a picture out of a magazine or download one from the internet that looks like one of your characters or backdrops. Stick it on a pin board and stare at it.
  • Pick up a pencil, crayon or paint brush and illustrate a small aspect of your story. Draw a map of the town or neighbourhood where events are situated.
  • Listen to music while you write. Get up and dance occasionally (no one’s watching) and let the paralysis of sitting slide away.
  • Go outside and crush a handful of leaves and feel the texture as they break away.
  • Set a cup of tea or coffee beside you on the work desk. Inhale deeply as you sip. Roll the liquid around your mouth before you swallow. How would that taste to your protagonist?
  • Read your work aloud because that’s where you’ll hear if your cadence is good and your dialogue natural.
  • Go for walks and let the ideas settle over you like autumn leaves or spring blossoms.

Whatever we see, hear, feel, or touch, there is always a story behind it. It may be part of our narrative, trying to get through to us.

How do open your body so your story will resonate through you? Can you remember any particular moment when a story or resolution came to you doing something entirely unrelated to the act of putting words on paper?


Photo by: Silvijo Selman