Hey, check that out — whenever I want to, I can wiggle my fingertips.
I’m making light of this but it’s funny how often I do actually lose track of the simple fact that I have a body.
I am a writer. Yet I’m not just a bodiless mind or a writing machine. I’m also a six foot tall biped. Funny that I should lose track of that, but I do. And I’m not alone.
The more screen time people get, the more we drift away from the wisdom of our bodies, the natural knowing of the Earth.
It’s a big loss. I have tried to stay in touch with it by living out in the woods, by taking long hikes, by camping and paddleboarding.
But my sense is that we are just living in a very different world these days. Despite what else I do, I spend a ton of time on the computer.
There’s no stopping technological advancement. That’s not the enemy here. The enemy would be something more like our unconscious acceptance of whatever ways the status quo pulls us.
Such as to make sure our social media presence is shiny. To stay current with the latest news or publishing trends. To always be shopping.
And we get pulled around in these directions not because we really deeply want to but simply because it’s where the herd mentality would take anyone. I find that the less present I am to my body’s wisdom and inner knowing, the more I’m just a pair of eyes and a wallet glued to a screen, the more I get pulled around in boring and predictable patterns.
Case in point: I have a collection of different mechanical keyboards. I mean, I love the tactile experience of typing on keyboards. I’m not ashamed of my geeky enthusiasm for keyboards. Except… at some point I really have to ask myself whether it’s really getting me where I want to go in my life.
If it’s a question of an hour spent shopping for keyboards versus an hour spent writing, why would I choose something without depth? It’s a hugely dramatic contrast interesting to ponder. During that hour of writing, magic can happen. What part of me chooses anything but that?
To make our way in the world, it’s an ongoing labyrinth where we are surrounded by opportunities for either greater depth or just more of the same.
In my experience, the less in touch with the body that I am, the more I’m likely to get pulled out of my depth into boring and predictable patterns.
These patterns can be considered a kind of writer’s block and either a vicious cycle or a virtuous circle. When you’re in touch with your depth, it’s easy to resist anything but that sense of chocolatey intoxication that creation brings.
Connect with your visceral experience to break writer’s block
It’s important to make a distinction between the two things.
On the one hand there is the physical body and physical sensory experience.
When you’re out playing soccer and you trip and fall, that’s your physical body.
When you’re sitting stationary and something pulls you into a state as if you were out on the soccer field, you’re in visceral experience. Reading erotica, you feel a response in your visceral body that likely has resonance in your physical body as well (such as arousal).
Activities that move energy
You may have heard that whole truthism that the brain does not distinguish between the thing you actually experience versus one that you vividly imagine.
When a story affects us, we feel it in our pulse — they turn us on, scare us, move us. We laugh, we jump in our seats when the killer comes around. Images bring us palpable delight and disgust.
Sometimes writing becomes an outlet for experiences that have no place in the world. So how much more can we be invited into the depths of possibility if we also engage our physical bodies doing things that really move energy and harness some of that visceral ability that we connect with when we write?
While it’s true that writing can move energy, it would be a massive missed opportunity to feel that writing alone can be sufficient to live a full life. Even if all you care about in life is your writing, there are multitudinous things to be done out in the world that are extremely effective at helping a writer write more effectively and efficiently. Not only because they feel better and are healthier people, but also because physicality gets them more in touch with themselves.
Simplicity… turned up to ten
So yeah. It becomes necessary to get up and move. There’s no two ways about that. The less thinking, the better. Just find things that really get you into your body and do them fully.
And there really is something to highlight about that: to engage in them fully. When I’m at the gym and I see a guy beside me lifting a bazillion pounds, I see such an opportunity for him to not only do the mechanics of lifting but see how fully he can feel what it feels like to lift that weight. To really indulge and delight in the moment-to-moment physicality of the exercise. Merely engaging mechanically accomplishes something, but it misses a huge opportunity at the meeting point of mind-body. When lifting weights, there is such an opportunity to harness anger and aggression and connect that with the movement. Nothing needs to be labeled or judged, just felt.
Then later when that hypothetical musclebound dude goes to sit in front of his laptop to blog, he can do so with all the force of his heart and write with to much more ease because he has delved fully not only into the mechanics of his body but also the viscerality of his psyche.
Make your shift
Find some physical exercises that engage you. Do them, and see what effect they have on your writing, whether they do anything to liven up your writing or improve your life.
With all the time writers spend sitting, we end up getting in our own way to some extent. Our energy gets a bit stale and crusty (speaking from experience here).
And I really feel like mentioning that being an “introvert” is perhaps something that we take too much solace in, and at some point it might be best to invite a different sense of identity. Rather than remaining static as we grow and move towards our goals, maybe other aspects of ourselves need to be brought more to the forefront. Maybe it can even be healing to do crazy-risky things like talking to people in person and going outside.
I mean, personally, I live in a tiny house. If I never went outside, my life would be frightfully dull and it would show in my writing.
Come to think of it, maybe I should go for a walk.