Lucy Christopher
Writer, Teacher, Speaker

Wriggle and Write

Writing and Yoga, will it work?

Last weekend, I led a workshop with Robyn’s Yoga that combined yoga with writing. We called it ‘Wriggle and Write’ which, in hindsight, perhaps sounded a little more like a primary school Summer Camp than a writing workshop for adults. Still, the folk who booked on looked suitably adult-ish, and there were no forays into coloured ball pits. And, yes, the title made me smile. So, we ran with it.

Happy tea

It was glorious. Gentle, fun, and full of friendly females. During the break, we had ‘happy tea’ from yellow tea bag packets. And afterwards, we sat smiling. Perhaps we’d cast a spell from movement and mind. I wondered: if we could write a single story together, from the simultaneous words in our minds right at that moment, what would that story say? Would a story like that feel like a bath? A kind of sinking into a comfortable numbness? Which doesn’t, admittedly, sound like the makings of a particularly gripping story. (But do stories always have to be gripping?).

Showing up, not showing off

As well as writing and wriggling, we thought and discussed. We mused on how yoga and writing are similar: both about exploring conscious and unconscious sides of the mind, both about gentle encouragement to let both sides work in harmony. Both writing and yoga involve processes where, at times, it is good to switch off and let intuition take hold, and at others it is helpful to be very switched on and deliberate about the decisions being made, and how that feels (for you, and for a character).

But what I thought about most was how yoga and writing both make conscious a process. They highlight the journey rather than the outcome. They prioritise the act of showing up, not showing off. They are about exploration and curiosity and just plainly about making oneself better. 

The Mexico Writing Retreat Gang posing in front of a cactus and wild flowers

Mexico Creative Writing Retreat

Together, Melvin Burgess and I tutored our students individually on their work-in- progress, as well as provided workshops on getting started, story structure, plot, editing, and setting (among other topics!). With the help of a pre-course questionnaire, the week was absolutely tailored to what the students wanted to learn.

Morning Yoga & Writing

Our mornings began in the divine new ‘Crystal Palace’ studio with early morning yoga (bodies need to be warmed up as well as brains!), followed by breakfast, and then our morning writing workshops. Lunch in the studio came next, followed by afternoons where students could write, or ride, or maybe do a bit of both. Before dinner was individual tutorials on their work, and after dinner came the tutor readings, or storytelling beside a bonfire. Mid-week we took our fearless band of writers on an excursion to Tula for some very Mexican creative inspiration. Top off the week with a visit from the wonderful Mexican publisher, Renato Aranda (who even arrived with Mescal to share), and we had one fabulously glorious time.

Rancho Las Cascadas at Sunrise
The beautiful Rancho Las Cascadas pictured early in the morning

Afternoon Ride

A particular highlight for me was the opportunity to ride with the students in the afternoon. On long, lazy walks through fields of vivid Mexican sunflowers, I enjoyed chatting to students about their novels or writing journey. There’s something about riding that makes thinking – and talking about thinking – just so much more relaxed, and easy. Together, we sorted out many a creative thorn during those rides.

This year our students called the week “transformative”, “amazing” and “exhilarating”. I’m going to add onto the list, as one of their teachers, that I found the week absolutely inspiring – I always find it so personally enriching to watch students achieve something new with their creativity, and to learn something helpful about their writing process. There were so many creative breakthroughs this year, it was so lovely to watch. And I, too, thought about new ideas and different ways of approaching my process.

Hasta luego, Writers!
Write well, write happy…

Lucy Christopher

Writer, Teacher, Speaker

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