Wednesday, July 29, 2015

8 Ways to Strengthen Your Writer Posture

Every writer needs a strong posture.
I recently watched a TED talks video, Amy Cuddy's "Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are." As a teacher, I understand the dynamics of body language. I read my students' body language all the time and modify my approach to match or alter their attitudes so the class runs smoothly and achieves my intended goals for learning.

Watching this video brought to mind that this approach to body language relates to writers and how we do what we do.

The obvious connection is how our characters respond to given situations. The postures we describe our characters holding tells a lot to our readers about how the character is feeling about the situation. Do they expect to win or lose? Are they going to fight or run? Do they like the people they are with? Which ones more than others? How is the day going so far?

When that described posture is combined with narrative evaluation or internal dialogue, we end up with contrast, support, and definition.

Every writer makes use of body language.

But what about the writer as writer? How does a writer adjust his/her posture for power and confidence, raise testosterone and lower cortisol in the other aspects of being a writer?

I have read numerous descriptions of writers as shy, quiet, non-social, and insecure people. We present big, but in actuality lack confidence in being writers. I don't know if that is true since fifty years back the typical writer was often viewed as a heavy drinking, loud, drug taking, know it all. Were they faking it?  Were they, to paraphrase Cuddy, faking it until they became it? Everybody is "coming out," so perhaps authors are too, and maybe we really are totally insecure. I know I am a shy person who has a teaching persona my students often describe as demanding. Being a demanding person would not work for me as a writer. And I am not interested in following the drinking, loud, drug taking, know-it-all approach to ensure my "writing persona" is strong. So how can we use Cuddy's ideas to present a strong writer posture in our writing endeavors?

Here are 8 ways to use Cuddy's ideas to strengthen our writing posture.

  1. Before you start writing, take that power pose — hands on your hips, feet shoulder-width apart and chin just a bit above parallel with the ground (called the Wonder Woman for a reason.) You should hear the theme: "Wonder Writer, Wonder Writer" playing in the background. Do this before you sit down to write that post, chapter, poem, etc. 
  2. Unless, of course, you are trying to write a downcast character and you are one of those writers that act out your characters as you write — so a low confidence pose would be good to start with: shoulders curled in, arms down and held close to the body clutching the torso or neck protectively — gather a sense of what that feels like and then power up and sit down.
  3. Going for an interview: written, audio, video, in person — first stand up, raise your hands in the air and shout (or whisper very loud) "I'm being interviewed" like it is an Emmy award you're receiving. Now go show them your stuff.
  4. How about that important phone call: Power pose it. By the way, according to Cuddy you have to hold this pose for two minutes. Now pick up the phone and make the call.
  5. About to upload your formatted eBook:  Walk around larger than life, take a stand in the middle of the room, power pose. Now go upload that baby. It's ready to face the world.
  6. Putting together a proposal to an agent? Feeling daunted by the task? Time to power pose. You got this. Now write that proposal.
  7. About to edit your fully drafted novel? Definitely time for a power pose. This is the second most common time for low confidence in the writer. (For me, number 4 is the number one low confidence time.) You've put in all this work and now you're saying it is done and ready for clean up. 
  8. Did somebody just say, "I hear that you write"? Get big, take up space — chest out, arms a little away from the body, chin up a bit or go for the power pose. Remember that's hands on hips, feet apart, chin up. "Damn straight, I'm a writer." Yeah, that's asking a bit much for me, too. But it would give me a rush of confidence, enough to say. "Yes, yes, I am."
It's been nice having this little chat. Consider following me, tweeting this post, checking by again. I do occasionally .... can you give me a couple minutes....  Okay, I'm ready now. So you enjoyed this post. Follow me, Tweet my post, come by each week and you'll find something valuable in my  writings to take away with you. I challenge you to check out my earlier posts. Yeah, power posture.


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