Writing is more like yoga than you might think.
Both disciplines require learning specific rules and vocabularies. Yoga has its 8 Limbs, one of which is asana, or the physical poses that most Westerners consider to be yoga. Each asana asks the yogi to hold the body in a specific and precise way. By focusing on the mechanics of the pose and sitting in the uncomfortableness, we see ourselves in a mirror. We learn things about ourselves.
Writing–crafting sentences out of symbols composed of curved and straight lines–is similar. When we write, we see ourselves in a mirror and learn things about ourselves. Things that we couldn’t see before we did the writing.
Both disciplines can lead to waking up from the trance that afflicts us all when we get consumed by the demands of work, home, and society. When we do yoga or write, we experience ourselves in deeper and more subtle way. This isn’t spiritual mumbo jumbo. We actually become more human.
Both disciplines can be thought of as spiritual practices.
What is a practice? A practice is something one does repeatedly. Over time, we get better at it. With sustained practice, we learn new subtleties about the practice and ourselves. We go deeper.
There is another meaning of the word “practice.”
In religious and spiritual realms, a practice is something that we do without expectations of an outcome. You do it. Period. And you do it regularly because it serves you. Maybe it serves God, if you believe in the divine. But practice is unusual in another way. Though many spiritual practices, including meditation and prayer, are deeply private, a practice actually benefits others. A solid practice shows us that we don’t have to be driven by impulse and conditioning. We don’t have to act the way we have always have. A practice teaches us that we have choices in how we show up in the world. And so, a practice benefits the community. It benefits the entire world.
Have you thought of your writing in this way? What if treating your writing as a practice that allows you to say what you most need and desire to say? What if you acknowledged that what you most desire to say WILL benefit others? What if you saw your writing as service to others?
Try this on.
A former senior editor and contributing writer at Outside magazine, Brad Wetzler is an author, journalist, travel writer, and book writing coach. His book, Real Mosquitoes Don’t Eat Meat, was published by W.W. Norton. His nonfiction writing has appeared in The New York Times Magazine and Book Review, GQ, Wired, Men’s Journal, National Geographic, George, Travel + Leisure, Thrive Global, and Outside. He coaches up-and-coming authors to write and successfully publish their books. For your free 30-minute phone consult, email Brad at email@example.com