Body of Work
The thing I hate most about writing is sitting still. For hours and hours and hours I sit while thoughts pour out through my fingertips. But I love the sense of release from the body that you get when you are completely in your thoughts. I love the writing part of writing (as versus the sitting). Unfortunately, there’s a price to pay for the pleasure.
This morning I’m off to yoga to try and unknot all the kinks in my neck, the tension in my lower back, to tend to all those aches and pains that I’ve developed from doing something as unnatural as writing. Because it really is unnatural to sit for most of your day.
I used to be able to do marathon days of sitting but the body took its revenge. These days I do yoga and pilates classes to make it possible for me to keep working at something close to my old pace. I’ve studied Alexander Technique too, which should be compulsory for all writers. (Musicians and
actors study it.) I also regularly see an osteopath and an acupuncturist too. If I didn’t, I probably wouldn’t be able to turn my neck to either side and would have to take painkillers to keep me at the desk.
Most writers eventually develop techniques or coping mechanisms to help them work without their bodies betraying them. Children’s author Michael Morpurgo works in bed propped up with pillows, as does Sonya Hartnett. So did George Orwell and Winston Churchill.
We tend to think of writing as such a cerebral thing that there’s never much discussion about the toll it takes on the body. It’s hard physical work, to be still and concentrate for hours on end. Walking, stretching, exercise of any description, getting into your body and out of the stew inside your head makes it possible for most writers to keep up a steady creative output.
Time for me to get the week underway with a big session of yoga. Om…..