Monday, June 30, 2014

The Physicality of Writing

Lately I've been thinking about how the physical plays a part in writing fiction. No, I don't really mean acting out scenes before you write or anything of that sort (of course -- if it helps you to be embodied in another character -- a sort of 'method' writing where you move around the room talking to yourself -- go for it) but rather how the muse can be coaxed out to play by moving about.

It's similar to that whole thing I observed about showers: there are some parts of the day during which my mind slumps (hello, afternoon!) and I have to step away from the act of writing to actually do any productive writing.

Bake it Up

So I usually, around 2 or 3 in the afternoon, have to turn to another activity. One of my favourites is baking. Or cooking works too. I find that in terms of complex, creative tasks that humans can do: writing and baking are almost completely diametrically opposed. With writing, you sit and use mainly your mind and very little of your body. It is a sedentary activity for which you are constantly innovating and solving problems of a very specific type.

And in the creative thinking realm, cooking has its share of problems to solve as well. Maybe that's why I usually like to bake during my break. Baking, unlike cooking, has actually a lot less variables. There are certain things that are known to work in baking, and certain things that are not. Baking relies heavily on a specific set of chemical reactions that if done right, just work.

I'm not saying that you can't be creative with baking. But what I am saying is that once you master the pattern of cookies, for example, you can repeat the pattern as often as you want without having to worry about experimenting. And thus the mind is freed to play in the background.

And so my house is filled with many, many cookies. Not such an awesome thing, I suppose, for someone who employs the main chunk of her time participating in sedentary activities.

Dance it Out

Of course, dancing is another of these creative physical activities that I also find very different to, and therefore very helpful in writing.

If there were a spectrum of the arts from most to least physical, writing would be on one end, dancing on the extreme opposite end. And because of this perhaps, I find when I am dancing it's as if I am still thinking creatively, but in a whole different way. And while I'm dancing, again I find that I can let my mind go off and play while my body's just....working it out. :P

What about you? Do you have a physical activity you like to do when you hit a slump?