I spent a couple of post retirement years writing full time and I had a blast. 5 books on parenting and 4 of my first fiction series – The Witches Of The New Moon Beach later, I felt fulfilled. However, I never anticipated how quickly I would gain weight and at the same time stiffen up from lack of movement. Oh sure, my fingers were regularly flying across the keyboard but my butt remained stationary for hours on end.
All three years I focused my energies on my writing. During that time I religiously avoided visiting my bathroom scale until one day when my doctor asked me to “step on up” and I froze. Yikes, I had gained ten, twenty… uh oh more pounds! What had happened? After all, I wasn’t a total slug. I had actually taken an occasional yoga class or two.
I knew that I had to make a change so I altered my eating habits, upped my yoga classes and increased my walking time. I poured myself into my black stretch pants and promised to stay faithful to my yoga master and my new found routine.
But wait! My weight gain was not my moment of enlightenment; at least not the one I want to talk about today.
Almost anyone can do yoga and I am surely an example of that. Moving from Mountain Poses to Yoga Backbends has taken some time, but I have actually started to enjoy it. I find myself centered and calmer as I leave the studio and that certainly has helped me with my writing focus. It was during one of my recent yoga sessions that I had this revelation of which I now speak.
Here it is – Practicing yoga and writing a book have a lot in common. I truly believe that as a byproduct of my self imposed, yoga packed, body limbering routine, I simultaneously improved both my body and my writing abilities!
According to the latest YOGA Journal the three segments that every yoga class should have include a slow warm up, a recognized theme and a slow cool down. Hmm, sounds similar to the elements of writing an article, story or book.
Slow Warm Up– Just as a yoga master warms up their students through challenging stretches so do writers warm up their readers by introducing characters and locations to engage and stretch the imagination. While yoga teachers struggle to keep their students fully involved in their yoga practices – so do writers toil to keep readers connected to their story line. It’s important to mix up yoga poses and some sessions need to be more impactful than others. This is also true when writing a book. A good writer builds from scratch, keeping the action moving and creating momentum while making some passages more action packed than others. A solid warm up is critical to the success of yoga students and writers as they learn to stretch both body and mind.
Recognized Theme – While a yoga class may focus on leg stretches or balance enhancement a book must have an equally identifiable focus or theme. The writer must be able to clearly articulate a storyline. Whether completing a challenging yoga experience or typing the last words of a book, the benefits can be similar. Both can bring satisfaction -physical and mental.
Slow Cool Down – One can find a parallel between a yoga cool down session and the completion of a well written conclusion. A passionate yoga practitioner might expect to feel more limber, relaxed and properly aligned – both mentally and physically – upon completion of their workout. Upon creating a final passage, a writer could anticipate feeling mentally stretched, emotionally fulfilled and totally in tune with their thoughts. Of course, throughout the process, both activities can be potentially filled with frustration and challenge.
I found a couple of other similarities between yoga and writing. I have to work hard at both to achieve any success and neither come naturally to me. Upon completing a satisfying chapter or a fulfilling yoga class I experience a sense of calmness, mental clarity and satisfaction. Usually exhausted at the end of either, I quickly recharge. I am now fully committed to both as they bring me joy. And some of my best storyline twists and turns have actually come to me in the calm of my yoga studio.
Surely you too can add a bit of magic to your day. I would encourage anyone to take a yoga class and if your heart so desires – try writing. Over time, you are sure to find satisfaction in either or both. For me a side benefit is that the scale numbers are going down; something we can always talk about later.
The one thing I know, after all my years as an elementary school principal, is that there is magic everywhere and in everyone. While I miss those enchanting moments with kids, I have always wanted to let my imagination run wild as I seek out my own magic and write about it. When I retired, I started to write my first books, a series called The Witches of New Moon Beach and inspiration wasn’t hard to find.
I have lived in Redondo Beach all my life, and New Moon might have more than a passing resemblance to my hometown. Every day I walk on the path that runs along the beach, sometimes with my sisters, but most often with my thoughts as I plot my next book.
I am long married and mom to three great grown kids. When I’m not writing or walking on the beach, you’ll find me sewing, reading or traveling and taking pictures.
Psstâ€¦have you heard? Everybodyâ€™s doing it. Self-publishing.
Itâ€™s hip, itâ€™s coolâ€¦itâ€™s like winning the lottery.
Hmmâ€¦maybe. Maybe not. Itâ€™s the wild, wild west out in the land of Amazon, Smashwords and Nook. All you need is a dusty, old manuscript from under your bed, a sexy cover and a few .html codes and youâ€™re dancing with the stars.
Oh, what fools we writers be.
It ainâ€™t that easy.
Hereâ€™s the deal: Youâ€™ve written a good story and your manuscript is in the best shape possible–critique groups, professional editing, etc. Now what?
No doubt you need a good cover and nearly flawless formatting, but donâ€™t give up if you havenâ€™t gotten it all together. Before you push that old manuscript back under the bed with the dust bunnies, it is possible to hitch your wagon to the self-pubbed stars and join in the land rushâ€¦or should I say, digital rush.
I did it. I self-pubbed a holiday novella and a short story. There are many blogs that can help you with various aspects of the biz, from J.A. Konrath to Bob Mayerâ€™s Write It Forward (I highly recommend both!), but here are a few tips Iâ€™ve learned along the way.
Jinaâ€™s 5 tips to self-publishing:
1. I formatted my manuscript myself with help from Marie Forceâ€™s blog–I especially found the info about â€œtabsâ€ and indenting â€œ.33â€ on the first line helpful.
2. I bought my cover art from Dreamstime.com They have quality photos and high resolution. You can choose from 12 million photos available on their site.
3. Be prepared to spend time learning how to format. Itâ€™s a high learning curve, but Iâ€™ve found both the Amazon (short video) and Smashwords guides to be helpful if youâ€™re willing to make the effort.
4. Be realistic about your goals. No one can predict how a book will do, but reading the Kindle forums and following other authors can give you an idea of how theyâ€™re doing. I follow OCCâ€™s Dr. Debra Hollandâ€™s blog–sheâ€™s been open and forthright about her experience in self-publishing and her sales. Another OCC author, Jacqueline Diamond (author of 90 novels), has recently self-published books from her backlist and knows the value of promoting her books (she made the top 100 in Regency on Amazon).
5. Write another book or story right away. Quality and quanity are both important in self-pubbing. You need product to sell. Imagine if a shoe store opened and all they had to sell was one shoe style?
Which reminds me of Cinderella and her glass slipper.
Putting your self-pubbed book out there is like Cinderella going to the ball. She had a team of cute little mice to make her dress (editing, cover and formatting) and a fairy godmother (Amazon, Nook and Smashwords) to make the magic happen.
She also had the moxie to get to the ball. Thatâ€™s where you come in.
Be like Cinderella. Donâ€™t be late to the self-publishing party.
Youâ€™ll never know if the glass slipper fits until you try it.
TITANIC RHAPSODY — my romance novel about the ship of dreams from Ellora’s Cave.