Why Flexibility Matters: Yoga for your Brain

It's just as important to keep your brain as flexible as your body when writing. A few tips to help you get more words.

It's just as important to keep your brain as flexible as your body when writing. A few tips to help you get more words.

Have you ever looked at the word flexibility? There are only two rounded letters in the bunch; the rest are stiff and sharp. Kind of the opposite of the meaning of the word, right? Regardless, I want you to think of the suppleness, the loose feeling you get from being flexible, and apply it to your writing. No, not in the obvious ways (writing on the fly, or moving your schedule around), but by making your brain and body strong and capable of writing all the words.  Today’s Spring Writing 2016 Bootcamp post is all about flexing those writing muscles.

First up, think about your brain as the biggest muscle in your body. It needs to have the best conditioning in order to crank out fabulous plots and dialog. And there are ways you can make your brain more flexible.

  • ·         Did you know that adult coloring is like yoga for the brain? (Hey, there are even books about this!) Get one of those zentangle coloring books and start slow. Learn how to shade, look for obvious and less obvious patterns, work on color blending, and grab a color wheel for reference if you don’t know about primary and complimentary colors. Yes, it’s supposed to be about relaxation, but doing it right can become a form of meditation that allows your brain to function on a higher level. And better brain function means better writing.
  •         Do some math—for fun! Okay, many writers would say that math and fun don’t go together in their world, but they should. Mentally adding up the cost of all your groceries before you get to the check out is a great way to use math in the real world. Or how about dumping that bag of M & M’s onto the table before you eat any, and making a guess at how many are inside? Your powers of observation will get stronger with every puzzle you throw at your brain.
  • ·         Speaking of puzzles, doing crossword puzzles is a superb way of increasing your vocabulary, all while having fun. Try doing one a week to start—without looking at the answer page—and you’ll notice an increase in your word craft.
  • ·         Can you remember what you had for dinner last night? If you’re like most of us, the unimportant details are lost almost as fast as they happen. Start a memory notebook. On Monday, write down what you ate at each meal. On Wednesday, try to remember both Tuesday and Wednesday’s menus and jot those down. And on Saturday, go for the past three days (Thursday, Friday and Saturday). If you can’t get everything, don’t worry. Pretty soon your memory capabilities will get better, and so will your writing. Imagine not having to scroll back through 100 pages to find out the name of someone’s cat. Once you start training your brain to hold onto details, you’ll automatically start doing it for everything.
  • ·         Last, but not least, look around you! We rarely “see” things anymore. We’re inundated with signs, sounds, technology, and so much more, we stop seeing it. Try this little exercise to increase your observation skills: pick a common thing you might see each day, like a For Sale sign, green cars, or women who wear glasses. Now, start looking for that thing every time you go out that day. You’ll be surprised at how good you get at looking for things, when you might have ignored them before because they didn’t mean anything to you. Start seeing your world around you and you’ll boost your descriptions in your writing, too!

Becoming more flexible means stretching your brain before writing.  Get into some better habits and before you know it, you’ll be writing faster and stronger than ever before.

Do you have any great tips for keeping your brain flexible? Let us know in the comments!