Day 9: Write with your body
From Michael W. Moses II, higher education scholar
Photo by Michael W. Moses II
Breathe, dear writer. Take in a deep inhale. Exhale as slowly as possible. Do that again—inhale to fill up, exhale to slow down. Notice the parts of you necessary for breathing. Your nose, mouth, lungs, belly—your body.
We are socialized to overlook how instrumental the body is to the writing process.
We often forget that “writer’s block” and procrastination are rooted in neuroses of the mind that inhibit us from carrying out our writing practice on a physical level. We obsess about phrasing things the “right” way, we tremble at the sight of a blank document on a computer screen, and we worry over the critique of others. We often freeze.
In such moments of anxiety, however, what would it look like to let them just be—mere afflictions of the mind—and instead allow your body to guide your writing?
Today, allow this prompt to mark a mindful shift in your writing—one that intentionally centers the body as an active facilitator of your practice and craft.
It is okay to start small. Take 15 minutes for yourself. Step away from the computer screen, turn off your working mind, and move your body! Consider going for a short walk. Maybe you take a break for hobbies and play your favorite instrument or knit a garment. Perhaps you have limited time or mobility and merely pulling away from your desk, stepping outside your office, and making your way down the hall to gaze out a window is all you can afford at this moment.
Regardless of how you have chosen to move your body, become aware of where your mind lingers. Perhaps you realize that you need to add an additional task to your to-do list for another project. Maybe you come to terms with the fact that the current organization of your project is not serving your argument.
When I move my body, I am amazed by the rush of sentences that flood my mind upon completing a workout. When I am stuck in my writing, I write by hand, using pen and paper, to deepen my connection with my body and allow my subconscious to take over as words begin to flow.
As you move your body, notice the “Ah-ha!” moments that unexpectedly arise, offering you new sentences, wording, and directions to incorporate in your writing. These connections are not coincidental. In silencing the mind and intentionally moving your body, your subconscious continues to work on your writing even when you are not actually “writing.”
Write with your body, dear writer. It is just as important as writing with your mind.
To learn more about the connection between your writing and body, check out my recent publications titled “Composting: A Writing Practice of Wellness for Academics of Color” and “Trust, Write with and for Your Body: A Critical Race Counterstory about Academic Writing.” You are also welcome to follow me @MichaelWMosesII on X (formerly known as Twitter) for more reflections on academic writing and professional development. Happy writing!