Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Writing Gets Physiological

As writers we tap into our inner child more often than we think. Every time we sit to write we act out a rendition of the beloved, “Head, Shoulders, Knees, & Toes.” Don’t believe me? Read on to see how.

We use our HEAD when we. . .
Let our imaginations run wild. There’s no brain like a writer’s brain. We’re constantly absorbing. Loved ones doubt we’re listening, but in actuality we’re not only listening, we’re taking mental notes about every facet of the environment around us. When we bang out words on the keyboard we’re transferring splices of these notes from brain to page. Synapses unite!

We use our SHOULDERS when we. . .
Use those painful experiences that have made us feel like we’ve carried the weight of the world on our backs. We’re more equipped to empathize with our characters when we’re honest about what has triggered royal cricks in our own necks.

We use our KNEES when we. . .
Walk the walk. When we practice our craft.

Knees are one of the largest, most complex joints in the body. There are ligaments in the knee that keep bones from sliding backward, forward, or from side to side.

Writers get physiological in the knees when we refuse to go BACKWARD with our work and our careers. We push on. We develop skills. We learn during every committed writing session.

We also take care not to shift awkwardly FORWARD. We don’t rush the process. By taking needed time we honor the story. We don’t simply throw in a quick fix or a convenient save. We respect the organic evolution of the narrative.

Writers are knee-conscious as our ligaments keep us from crunching from SIDE TO SIDE. We do this when we focus on our own craft. Avoiding the comparison trap keeps us from rubbing others the wrong way.

Knees also have cartilage that works as shock absorbers. In the current publishing climate we need a lot of shock absorbers.

We use our TOES when we. . .
Take what we’ve learned out in the world and incorporate it into our manuscripts. Our toes enable us to use life experiences—the miles and missteps our shoes have tromped. Each step or misstep offers ripe material. Oh, the tales our toes could tell. Bunions, hammertoes, warts  & all.

When is the last time you got physiological as a writer? 


  1. My physio-check is a crippled right arm, damaged in a woodworking accident years ago. It reminds me that nothing in this world is perfect, and everything's compromised in some way.

    (This is distinct from the "everyone's broken" mantra so popular in Christianity today. That has more than a whiff of mewling self-pity disguised as humility. If we're functioning, we're not broken. We may be hurt, but just as I have to cowboy up and use the arm I have, we need to use the souls we have, with whatever scars or limitations that we've incurred in life.)

    1. "We need to use the souls we have." Indeed. Great point.

  2. Right now, I am undergoing therapy for a frozen shoulder due to Arthritis. I have had this shoulder act up on me off and on for several years. When I plan my blog entries and my columns, I use my thinking process to decide the monthly topic and then the appropriate entries. The other parts I will have to think about.

    1. Like how you applied this, QS. I hope your therapy continues to help your shoulder.


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