How understanding the Root Chakra can help your writing

The Writing Through the Body™ process is both generative and corrective. It’s generative in that it can help you build a character or a story from nothing, and it’s corrective in that it can move you forward if you’re stuck. Here’s how.

Oftentimes with writing we’re faced with a chicken-or-egg scenario. Maybe we want to write but we’re coming up blank. Or maybe we’ve started a story but it just isn’t going anywhere.


To clear that block and generate story, we can simply begin by imagining a character (think simply at first: gender and age – woman, 35 years old).

"Migrant Mother"  by Dorothea Lange

“Migrant Mother”
by Dorothea Lange

Then, give her a Root Chakra (located in the area just in front of the tailbone) problem: survival fears or fear of abandonment. This can take the form of her literally not having enough money to buy food and shelter for herself and her kids. It can be an irrational fear of not being able to provide even if she does have the resources. Or it can be her fear of her husband leaving her, which makes her suspicious and on edge. The fear doesn’t have to be founded on any evidence. It just has to be present.

Next, pick a setting, the writing element I pair with the Root Chakra, because setting plays significantly into the shaping of our identities. (Think of your childhood home.) If we put her in her kitchen (a logical space for someone struggling with survival fears… food, sustenance, or lack thereof) and get her to move around, we’ll bring her to life. What’s she making for dinner? Can she make dinner? What are her kids doing in the background?


image credit:

image credit:

On the other hand, if we’re already well into a story and we have a character who is already struggling with basic survival needs (sometimes these things just come to us organically), we can consult the chakras and know that she’s struggling with a Root Chakra problem.

The Root Chakra governs our Tribal Power. Generally, we think of this as our family of origin. So when our character is struggling to put food on the table at home (or fearing that she won’t be able to) or fearing she’s going to be left, we can begin to look back into her family constellation and dynamics (her back story) to understand her relationship with money, “having enough,” or “being enough.” We can then begin to know why she has this fear and let that information inform the story. We might even try bringing a family member into the story to see how it helps character development and storyline unfold.

We don’t always have to tell our readers every detail about our characters’ back stories, but we, as the writer, have to know them.

Who’s your character and what’s your setting?

Move your character

Creating characters readers will be invested in and resonate with is no easy task. We have to make them step up off the page so readers can take them in with all the senses, experience them as real people. Readers want to know what the character looks like, what she smells like, sounds like, feels like, and in some cases, even what she tastes like. Take her from flat to living and breathing by spending enough time with her. Treat her like someone you care about because before you’re finished with her, you will care about her. Very much.


To get started, keep a character journal. Devote a page or more to each character.

  • Create a name, gender, and age.
  • Describe what she looks like. Give her a hair color, a body shape. Dress her.
  • Fill her apartment, bedroom, and car with things. But do this selectively. What she wears and what she owns tells us who she is.
  • Make her talk. Is her voice high or deep? Loud or soft? The way she speaks tells us how much power she thinks she has in the world.
  • What does her apartment smell like? Her car? What about her hair?
  • And if you kissed her? Her skin? Her mouth? What would you taste? (In a past post I wrote that we have to fall in love with our characters. Sometimes we also have to make love to them.)
  • Move her. Show us how she walks. Laughs. Picks up a wine glass or a cigarette. How she handles a pencil.

After you have her physicality clear in your mind (and this may come in pieces), get to know her and understand what motivates her to want the things she wants and to make the choices she makes.

  • Why does she go to the same coffee shop every day?
  • What does she do while she’s there and why?
  • What does she want, more than anything and why?
  • What, or who, might interfere with her getting her desire?
  • What’s at stake if she doesn’t get what she wants? How will this affect her life, and what new decision will she make when met with an obstacle?

As writers, to tell our characters’ stories, we have to become one with them. We have to allow them to climb inside us and live under our skin as much as we have to climb inside them and live under theirs. The more time we spend knowing them from the inside out, the more we can understand what moves them.

And the more we move our characters, the more we move your readers.

Who’s your favorite character?