Recently I started taking yoga again. I’ve never been terribly consistent about yoga, and always admire the lithe, wiry people who seem to defy gravity in their poses, arms holding up their entire bodies; legs that seem strong enough to carry the whole class. These are the people who refer to yoga as a “practice”—a concept that seems to run so much deeper than just “I take yoga classes.” I picture them holding tree pose while they brush their teeth, doing downward dog as they tie their children’s shoes. But what I never imagine are these practitioners of yoga madly doing Sun Salutes or Forward Folds on their way to a finish line, or expecting to be crowned Most Yogic Person of the year. Because yoga is a practice, not a competition.
Like writing is, or should be—a practice. That is, something which adds some sort of value, meaning, presence or otherwise to one’s life. Something that one does repeatedly, over time, continually, for the sake of doing it.
What would our writing look like if we treated it with the reverence and joy of a yoga practice? What if, in fact, we were to imagine our writing lives as following two parallel paths. The first path is the one we never, ever step off, the constant, daily laying down of words—in journals, in essays, in our novels and stories, in stories told to our children and friends. And what if the second simultaneous path is the “business” path—on which we work toward goals and milestones, and stop to collect our “rewards.”
Why even think of writing this way? Because as someone who both writes and works with writers in my business, I find that it is precisely when we turn away from the practice—from the joyful, enriching, expansive and creative process of writing because of the meaning it brings to us, that we lose the joy that allows us to keep up with the second path—toward the success and publication we desire.
And what’s not to love about the idea of practice? Doing something over and over so that one gets continually better at it, hones it? Meaning: you don’t have to be perfect.
Join me here as we think of ways to keep your heartfelt practice alive to, in whatever way this manifests for you: writing wild flash fiction, or morning pages, or letters to your children, or journal scribbles.