The Role of The Body

As people who like to write and tell stories we can have a tendency to believe that our mind is the primary player in our chosen discipline.

While it obviously plays a key role, the thinking mind is also partly responsible for creating and sustaining many blocks to creativity. When we involve our bodies as well as our minds when we tell stories, we change the status quo and dissolve many of those blocks. We discover a way of operating that is similar to the way in which animals function in the wild. In this sense, we re-find a ‘natural’ state of storytelling. We become ‘wild writers’ – unblocked, prolific, satisfied and successful in our chosen field. 

Put simply, the process goes like this: The storyteller experiences life from an embodied vantage point. (How can it be otherwise? Our body sensations, emotions, thoughts, perceptions and images all reside and influence each other there). They then assigns that embodied experience to their character or narrator. The reader/listener then feels that experience as they read or listen. It is from the physical body of the storyteller, to the body of the narrator/character, and then to the body of the reader, that meaning is transmitted.

A key idea comes out of this: the more strongly the storyteller is in touch with all aspects of their embodied experience - particularly their body sensations, and the relationship between them, the more strongly the reader or listener will be impacted by the narrative.

Conversely, if they are only aware of their thoughts, not their bodily sensations or emotions for example, the receiver will be impacted very little. The role of the storyteller’s embodied experience is fundamental to the creative process.

Another idea that is key to the Wild Words work is that what happens on the page is a reflection of the behavioural patterns that the storyteller demonstrates in other areas of their lives. When we look at the page or listen to an oral tale, we glean clues to the functioning of the writer/storyteller. Conversely, if you work with your relationship to your embodied experience, you can fundamentally affect what happens on your page, or in the telling of stories (‘true’ or imagined), to others.

At Wild Words, the crafts of writing and storytelling are taught from the ‘bottom up’. This means that the most physical level of the storyteller’s being- the body, is considered the most important focus, and the thinking mind, with its meaning and narrative-making, is of secondary importance.  Here we’re turning traditional writing tuition on its head. In the writing world, I’m doing the equivalent of telling you that the world is round when you’ve always been told it was flat. Exciting isn’t it!

Is the end of sitting in a room learning ‘writing techniques’?

Certainly, as writers we have a tendency towards over-thinking, over-analysing, and self-criticism. This often takes us further away from being in touch with a ‘natural state’ of writing, and our innate ability to tell great stories. Many, if not most, writing classes exacerbate this problem, by teaching us to ‘think more’ in order to be a better writers.

When we use only our thinking minds, and set up ideas of what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ on the page, it’s always a quick fix. We don’t identify and deal with the source of problems, nor learn to make the most of the opportunities that come our way. Our creativity does not improve sustainably. However, nowhere in this course do I suggest that we jettison our thinking mind completely. It’s a valuable asset to the storyteller-writer, if used correctly. What I do suggest is that we re-prioritise and re-order the process.

When we do that, we are shocked and delighted to discover that the body is a powerful ally in the quest to live, communicate, and write well. It ‘knows’.

We can learn to listen and respond to its cues. To do this we must re-train the body-mind relationship, as well as, where necessary, make unconscious material, conscious. Then we too will have the awareness, and dare I say it, wisdom, to achieve our goals.