Why I love teaching Writing Through the Body

AllSpheres_eBookCover_DarkBackI’ve been fortunate enough to step into the community at For Goodness Sake in Truckee, a group of people who are conscious, spiritual, forward thinking, and loving. And I was fortunate enough to be allowed to teach a free Writing Through the Body workshop there in December to a rapt audience who clearly appreciated what this process has to offer. It was the kind of validation I needed post-AFest to keep on my path of creating the Writing Through the Body enterprise I envision.

In this free four-hour workshop, I share information about Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi concept of flow and Candice Pert’s discoveries about our emotions and our subconscious and how they relate to our chakras. I also talk about my thought process I went through in creating Writing Through the Body and what I’ve learned over the years from my students about the freedom that comes when we tap the subconscious. I give a general meditation that targets all the chakras, accompanied by a few writing prompts. And after the break, I give them a sample of the meditation and writing prompts from both the fiction workshop and the memoir workshop.

I love talking about Writing Through the Body because I believe in it so much. I believe it’s founded on some solid thinking, even scientific thinking. And I love talking about it and teaching it because I see the benefits people realize, even in this short, condensed version.

It’s gratifying to me to see the shifts in people, to have people tell me afterward about all the ideas they suddenly have again and what they wrote that surprised them during the workshop. And I love receiving the emails afterward and learning about dreams and epiphanies had and how they’re putting what they gained to good use and are writing, either for the first time or again, after a long period of being blocked.

I plan to do more of these free workshops in 2015 as I continue to create and build my stable of Writing Through the Body products and services. Here are some things you can expect to see:

  • A FREE eBook (which will contain the contents of the free workshop I gave at For Goodness Sake)
  • More teleseminars for both fiction and non-fiction
  • A full 7-module digital WTB course for both fiction and non-fiction
  • Weekend and 7-week face-to-face WTB workshops
  • A WTB book, in print form (outlining and drafting have begun)

If you haven’t already and would like to be on the email list, please opt-in in the upper right-hand corner of this page. You’ll automatically receive my “10 Ways to Banish Writer’s Block” immediately. And when I finish the eBook, I’ll send that to you, as well, free of charge.

Thanks to everyone who continues to be interested in Writing Through the Body, who is spreading the word about its effectiveness, and for having the courage to write and share your stories with the world. We need them.

Much love,

XXXXX
Johnnie

 

Writing can heal your body: The science behind it

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I’ve been saying for a long time that writing can heal us on all levels. I’m guessing this is nothing new to those who write because I’m willing to assume that everyone who writes earnestly, including those who have maintained regular journal entries, have experienced a healing of some sort, whether it be a clearing of psychic debris or emotional weight. It stands to reason, then, that if writing clear our minds and emotions, and lightens our spirits, and that because our thoughts and emotions directly influence our physical health, writing can heal our bodies, too.

In this article by Rachel Grate at Arts.Mic, a group of New Zealand researchers have tracked the healing trajectories of patients with medical biopsy wounds. She also writes, “Even those who suffer from specific diseases can improve their health through writing. Studies have shown that people with asthma who write have fewer attacks than those who don’t; AIDS patients who write have higher T-cell counts. Cancer patients who write have more optimistic perspectives and improved quality of life.”

She also writes that “One study found that blogging might trigger dopamine release, similar to the effect from running or listening to music.” With that in mind, I’ll sign off here and get to work on my next blog post about why people procrastinate writing…

How do the benefits of writing show up in your life?

Sending you mad writing mojo…

Johnnie
XXX

Writing is Re-writing: Just get it outside yourself

As a college writing instructor, I found that one of the most difficult concepts for students to embrace is that writing is re-writing. None of us gets it right the first time. So many who claim they want to write either don’t want to put for the effort of re-writing or are driven by perfectionism and want their first drafts to be their final drafts.

That never happens.

As Anne Lamott says in her excellent and entertaining book on writing, Bird by Bird, in a chapter titled “Shitty First Drafts,” “All good writers write them.”

I like to think of the analogy of a potter spinning clay. The first draft is the act of throwing the clay onto the potter’s wheel. Just as the clay has to be extracted from its package to be turned into something meaningful and useful, the same is true of our words. We have to extract them from our mind – get them outside ourselves – before we can begin to shape them into something meaningful and useful.

While working on a first draft, just get it outside yourself. Dump the words on the page or screen the way a potter throws the clay on the wheel. Don’t worry about organization, sentence structure, word choice, or punctuation.

After the words are outside your busy brain, then and only then, can you do something with them.

Try it. Do a word dump. Just one page. Do it now…

Then re-work it
5 times
10 times
20 times
… or however many times it takes.

Getting to Know You: Backstory – How much is too much?

In my Writing Through the Body workshop this week, we talked about backstory a little. Backstory is your character’s history. It’s everything that happened before the story you’re telling.

Knowing your character’s backstory will help you make informed decisions about her or his motivations, intentions, and behaviors in the story you tell.

Before we went into production on my feature film, FOUND OBJECTS, I wrote extensive and detailed backstories on all the characters and sent them to the actors who would play the parts. By the time we started production, they had clearly ingested their respective characters and showed up fully embodying them.

Even though we aren’t acting out our characters in fiction writing in the literal sense, in some ways, we are. We have to be able to slip into their skins to portray them with authenticity, and the best way to do this is by thoroughly knowing their backstories.

This doesn’t mean, though, that the backstory will wind up in your story, though. In fact, oftentimes it’s better NOT to include it.

In the video below, KM Weiland quotes Ernest Hemingway:
“Backstory is the nine-tenths of the story under the water.”

Watch the video to see what else she has to say about backstory.

And Libby Hellman has more to say about her process of creating backstory
for the main character in her novel, Easy Innocence.

 How do you create backstory for your characters?

Myths & Truths About Writing

Because sometimes, it’s good to remember…

Myth #1

Writing is easy for professional writers. Writing is easy for everyone but me.

Truth

Writing is an agonizing process.

“Writing anything is terribly hard but, alas for me, because I am addicted, a heck of a lot of fun. I often am sorry I ever started writing prose, because it is so hard. But I can’t stop.” – Judy Collins

“A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” – Thomas Mann

 

Myth #2

Writers know what they’re going to say before they begin writing. Writers get it right the first time.

Truth

Writing is a process of discovery. You write to find out what you’re thinking by writing.

“You know when you think about writing a book, you think it is overwhelming. But actually, you break it down into tiny little tasks any moron could do. – Annie Dillard

“One thing that is always with the writer–no matter how long he has written or how good he is–is the continuing process of learning how to write.” – Flannery O’Connor

 

Myth #3

You have to be born with the talent to write.

Truth

Writing is a skill that can be learned.

“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking about, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means.” – Joan Didion

“Writing and rewriting are a constant search for what one is saying.” – John Updike

 

Myth #4

Other people, especially writers, don’t make the mistakes I make.

Truth

No pain, no gain. Writing is a series of mistakes and corrections.

“Mistakes are the very base of human thought, embedded there, feeding the structure like root nodules. If we were not provided with the knack of being wrong, we could never get anything useful done.” – C.S. Lewis

“Mistakes are the portals of discovery.” – James Joyce