What do we need to create an inspiring space to write?
3 candles, 2 sage smudging sticks, a quiet room (preferably in the country), a free afternoon, a cork board of fascinating facts, 1 cup of tea, 1 back-up cup of tea, a myriad of meaningful objects, 1 pen / pencil, 1 notebook/macbook and we’re away…
And what do we need to actually write?
At least that’s sometimes what it feels like to me…
I am currently utterly convinced that my destiny is to be a part-time rockstar yoga teacher and full-time bestselling children’s author.
Destiny however, it turns out, is a lot of work.
My teacher, Ana Forrest, once asked us, a group of eager wannabe yoga instructors, what our dreams were. ‘Do you want to be a good yoga teacher? Then guess what you have to do: Do yoga every day. Teach every day’.
Every day? Every day?
Even in my role as a full time yoga teacher that commitment can be tricky. Just as I can sit at my computer twiddling my thumbs for hours so too can I sit at my mat, wiggling my toes and going over the grocery list. And that’s if I’ve unrolled the mat at all.
Ana’s instruction of ‘Do Yoga every day’ wasn’t then followed by the proviso of ‘if you feel like it’ or ‘if the moon is full’ or (my personal favourite) ‘only when you’ve done the washing up’. It was ‘do your Yoga’. Full stop. And, as if to drive the message home, she often taught our class wearing a t-shirt with the words ‘Do The Work’ emblazoned boldly on the front.
E.B. White once quipped that ‘a writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper’. So, while not ideal, perhaps I don’t need my cottage in the country or my lucky pen or even a completely free day to devote to ‘my art’. Sometimes 3 sun salutations and a 500 word flow of consciousness is all that the day will offer.
Tips to get you on the mat
- Start with sun salutations – I use the classical suns with low lunges to step onto my mat with purpose. I know where I’m going, I can switch off the thinking brain and find my way into my feeling body. Once I’ve done 6 rounds or so, I’ll usually have a better understanding of what my body needs today and that might be bashing out a 60 minute inversion practice, a short and sweet breathing exercise or sinking into a luxuriously long savasana.
- Add a mantra to the mix – Step onto the mat with intention: I am powerful, I am present.
- Breathe – Step onto the mat without agenda, you are not demanding anything from your body your are enquiring as to what it needs. Sometimes taking a few breaths will give the body the quiet it needs to answer: Inhale (long and deep) ‘I am calm’; Exhale (everything out) ‘I am focussed’.
- Music for the soul – I have 2 words for you: 80s Rock. That is all.
Tips to get you onto the page
- Set a timer – start small, 10 minutes of focussed attention.
- Find a friend – set a writing date, I have a wonderful friend who gathers people for ‘shut up and write’ sessions. There is a sense of accountability that can be a great driving force.
- Release your Great Expectations – you are not expecting Dickens. You are perhaps the only one who will read this. Give yourself permission to write badly!
- Pick an album – one that inspires you and you perhaps have written to before, it can often get you into that sweet ‘flow zone’ faster.
In other words, darling, just fucking do it.
Ash 🙂 xx