Yoga, Writing & The Final Stages of (This) Revision

I’m about to head into the final stage of (this) revision. I say “this” because it is the one that I will send to my editor (which is wild and amazing and I cannot believe that I get to actually write that!) So I know there will be more–possibly many more and that is okay. It is part of the process.

I printed out the first draft yesterday and it is amazing how different and frankly cool it was to see months of work on paper. While I had printed up sections of the book for revision, this was the first time that I had seen the whole thing.

My friend asked to hold it and then said, “It almost looks like a book.”

Sort of made my heart skip a beat.

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There is much work to still do to get it ready and even then I know that when I submit it (WOW!)  It won’t be exactly the way that I want it to be and I need to be ok with that, for I believe that is part of the process.

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When I had submitted my pages (or packets) at school, it was a similar feeling. One could tweak, but there came a point when I was too close to it and I welcomed my advisors perspective on things so that I could go back and do it better.

deb ohi revision

I’ve been incorporating yoga and meditation into my writing practice, for like yoga I do feel that writing is something one must practice at to get better. My friends (and amazing writers) Laura O’Dunne Sibson and L. Marie did this amazing Q&A about the benefits of yoga and writing and how it helps the creative process, which I highly recommend.  A few months back, it was It was a kind reminder to me of the importance yoga plays in my life and (like writing) I’m was not always as dedicated to it as I could be.

I have been practicing yoga for almost 15 years, mostly on my own with a book or CD, or DVD. I started when I was living in Montreal and going to grad school and there was time for me to take the book that had a 12 week practice for beginners and I just focused on it. I was actually doing it quite regularly, almost daily with the intention of just going within and being in touch with my body and mind. My mind is always ALWAYS processing something. It is its job and I’m thankful for it. But sometimes, I (like many) just need to get quiet. What started back then was a morning ritual, one that I wish that I could incorporate into my daily life more but find that I cannot always do it. I would do yoga and meditate and then go to my journal and do morning pages (I had been doing The Artist’s Way as well.) Image

I’ve never stopped practicing yoga, but there have been times where weeks go by and I haven’t done it and I feel it. Last summer I decided to go to a class thinking that it would help me be more structured in my practice. The space was beautiful and I discovered some forms of yoga that I didn’t quite know about. I knew that I had been in my comfort zone at home, gravitating to the same yoga positions and styles that I had become accustomed to and I needed to step out of it but didn’t know how. Taking the class was a big step because I had to be in a room with other people, something that the anti-gym girl in me hated but I worked through it.

Yet, once winter hit and the Christmas rush at work and all of the other excuses, I stopped going and it just wasn’t working. After a twelve hour day, the two hours of class and then the commute home, not getting home until 9 some nights was not something that I could keep up. I needed a new plan.

A friend of mine recommended a website called myyoga.com and if you haven’t checked it out, you should. I don’t want to sound like an advertisement, but I will say this–it has changed my practice, pushed me beyond my comfort zone, and opened myself up to potential possibilities of what I could do.

For me, yoga has always been a private practice and something that–if I’m disciplined about it–will fit into my schedule. Except for walking and dancing (and I’m not talking about like real dancing I’m talking about dancing around your room with a hair brush), yoga is the one form of exercise that I’m consistent at. There are different forms of meditation as well, and so I can take the time to do the practice in the morning or when I come home that works for my schedule. It has been a saving grace and my body thanks me.

But what I’ve noticed, too, is that the days where I’ve done yoga and meditation before I start writing are the days where I get my best writing done. It has also allowed me to go deeper into my story and go to the places I’ve been avoiding. Tapping deeper into yoga has given me the permission to tap deeper into my creativity.

And like writing where I’m constantly discovering more about myself and my work, yoga also opens me up to those moments where I’m like, “Oh look I did that thing that I didn’t think that I could do,” or “Well, this was too much for me today and that is okay. Tomorrow will be better.”

Right now myyoga.com is doing a series on the Goddess and two of the sessions had a profound impact on my writing. The first was Amanda Giacomini’s Saraswati Flow Yoga, (the goddess who represents the arts, music and creativity) which really allowed me to open up and tap into my creative expression, helping with a particular character question that I was dealing with. The other was Nico Luce’s , was focusing on Ganesha, the Gatekeeper. Besides pushing me beyond what I perceived to be a particular physical limitation, Nico also says at one point: “The only way is through it.”

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This is not new but really hard. And, again one of those kind reminders. You can try to write or work around the scene but eventually you are going to have to write through it, be in it. There have been many scenes I’ve written around in this draft. Sometimes it is because I felt like I didn’t know the characters well enough. Sometimes it was because I felt like I didn’t know the history well enough. Sometimes it was because I couldn’t face the emotional implications of it. One scene I just avoided by writing more pages. When I realized what I was doing I started laughing and crying and then wrote a friend to tell her because I knew she would get it.

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Writing that scene means going through it and then in the revision process, I’ll have to do it again, but like a particularly difficult yoga move, it will (hopefully) either get easier or at least I’ll understand the work and myself better.

At least that is the philosophy I’m going with over the next 10 days. It will be my method to help me through this part of the journey.

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About Melanie J. Fishbane

My novel, MAUD: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L.M. Montgomery was published in 2017 through Penguin Random House on April 25, 2017. I hold an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Here I talk about my writing process, things I love, and creative people who inspire me.
This entry was posted in Inspiration, L.M. Montgomery, VCFA, Writing, Writing Life and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Yoga, Writing & The Final Stages of (This) Revision

  1. L. Marie says:

    Congrats on being so close to being done with this book!!! That’s so exciting!!! I’m so happy for you and for the connection that yoga has for your process. Very cool!!!

  2. This is an awesome post, Melanie. I’ve been getting back into Yoga again too as an off again on again practitioner, though I’d never thought about incorporating it as part of my writing practice. I do feel so much calmer and more focused after morning yoga. I’ll have to give it a try! 🙂

  3. sandranickel says:

    What an inspirational post. I am a believer in yoga too–and Its incredible ability to enhance writing. But like you, sometimes I slip into being less dedicated due to all the craziness that life brings. I will be back to it today. Thanks for that, Melanie! And about your revision: Good luck and congratulations. It is all so exciting!

    • Thanks, Sandra. I think the idea is to at least remain somewhat connected to it. It is a practice after all…It makes me happy that something I’ve written has inspired you. Have a good yoga and hope the writing is going well for you…

  4. laurasibson says:

    Melanie, I love that L.Marie’s series on space and my piece on yoga sparked something for you. I continue to be amazed by what yoga and meditation can bring to my day — including the writing. Congrats on working on the revision that will be sent! You have a whole book now and that’s something to celebrate 🙂

  5. sharonholly says:

    I like how you relate yoga with writing. I think it probably touches everything. I’ve recently started practicing yoga again – I think it’s something about springtime.

    I’m curious if you worked through the whole book of The Artist’s Way? I bought it a few years ago, and for some reason just stopped part way through. I think it was at the chapter that deals with finances…hmm.

    • Thanks so much. Yoga does seem to tap into the transition of the seasons, doesn’t it?

      Yes. I did make it through the whole book. I think that the elements around abundance-if I recall–forced me to confront a few ideas I had around wealth. hmmm..

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