Writing and Physiology

I was sitting at the desk the other day, staring at the blinking cursor when I remembered something from a long way back about meditation. It was from a ‘how-to’ book, so don’t sue me, I’ve never actually studied meditation properly. But the book was talking about how the body position and even facial expression can affect mood – I have heard something similar from motivation gurus.

I think the ‘gurus’ take it all a little far, one claiming (not naming names:)) that emotions are nothing but ‘physiological storms in your brain’. Hmmn. Well maybe for him, but that sort of statement has never gelled with me.

There is a point here though. How you physically position yourself, and even facial expressions can influence your mood.

One of the best examples of this is trying to feel certain states while doing certain physical actions. For example, try to feel sad while jumping up and down in the air, smiling and going ‘Yay! Yay!’ at the top of your voice. It’s hard to well-nigh impossible.

I’m not sure how much that proves – after all sometimes we want to feel sad. That’s a core emotion. And ignoring or repressing anger is not healthy. But beyond this there definitely is an influence on our mood when we adopt certain physical postures.

So while I was watching the blinking cursor I lifted my jaw up off the desk, straightened my back . . . and smiled. It did actually make a difference.

Do you use body position or posture to give your daily word limit a boost?

19 thoughts on “Writing and Physiology

  1. I think if my body was positioned in a little village in England I would probably write more. Or outside. I used to be able to write about 1000 words an hour (for 1 – 2 hours) if I was sitting in a park.

    Perhaps that’s not what you meant though 🙂

  2. Chris, I find it hard tno to write things like this:

    Her heart lifted.
    His stomach sank.
    His stomach churned.

    All useful shorthand for conveying how someone feels, but all cliches.

    1. Hi, Rowena. I think people can go over the top cliche-hunting. If its not overused, and the it does not jar the reader what harm is there? Then again, I suppose its got to get past the editor, who is usually overly sophisticaed and critical compared to readers.

    1. Hey, Mike. I had air blowing on my face as well, or my head. I keep a cap in my jacket pocket in case I sit under the vents in the bus:)

      Unfortunately my office at home is a dungeon – no natural light. My ideal writing studio would have lots of natural light – and view.

  3. My mother used to tell me “Smile, it’ll make you feel happier” I don’t know how old I was, but I still remember how indignat I was when I found out she was right.

    I take “day dream” breaks to envision something close enough to the emotions in a scene before trying to write it.

    1. Hi, Sarah. You might find it hard to write in my office if that’s the case:) Not that I’m that under dressed, but things tend to pile up.

      Maybe I should send my good clothes to the dry cleaners for my final draft. . .

      1. Chris, actually what I mean is not being in my grubbies, and although I once wrote most of one book in my robe — I barely slept/showered/ate — it was a rush job — most of the time I can’t work like that.

  4. I do try to smile at people and give them a happy goodbye at work, and I guess it must have done the job since I haven’t throttled anyone as yet.

    1. Hey, Brendan. What I love about doing posts are all the good ideas I get from other people:) Maybe I should give up growling when I walk into the office. I usually manage smiles by Thursday – or Friday afternoon.

      1. Chris, since I work in customer service I am greeting and farewelling probably up to 200 people a day. Sometimes it takes all I learned in amateur dramatics to put on that smile(You really want to pay for a $2 item with your CC?) but it is usually worth the effort.

        Of course, other times, my only hope is karma will come back to bite the @#!$%^&!

  5. I know for a fact that my productivity in the morning is at least twice what I can achieve in the afternoon.

    Then it kicks in again after about 8pm. I often don’t bother working during the afternoon because of this. Music selection can help in some cases but I have to select the right music for the scene I’m writing.

    The current 80’s revival in Oz is giving my new, new romantic side a boost!

    1. Hi, Chris. Sounds ideal really. Imagine if you could work all day? You’d be stuck in fron of the computer!

      When push comes to shove I’d rather write in the morning. By the afternoon I am really getting stale. A night my brain is half-asleep, which really makes me the life of any party (not::).

      I’ve bounced around a little with music. Now I’m back to having it on again. For a while there I found it messed with my concentration, but it seems to be OK now, which is nice.

  6. I can only have instrumental music. It’s impossible to write with lyrics in my head. And I definitely write better in the morning. Editing is fine all day, but new words just don’t happen in the afternoon.

    1. Hey, Scott. I’m with you on the afternoon writing. I think the lyrical content is what led my to write without music – I seem to be able to ignore it now though.

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