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May 4, 2010
Comparing Writing Rituals to Yoga

Every time you turn around, a new style of yoga is becoming the chosen one. There’s Astanga Vinayasa, and Vinyasa without the Astanga, Iyengar, celebrity-touted Bikram, and even the very latest, Hot Naked, to name a few.

While I am a yoga follower, I am a devotee to my own form, which is none of the above. It’s called "writing yoga," and I never miss a day of practice.

It starts as I retreat to my little space at the same time every morning. Geared in loose bathrobe, I assume my seated asana (pose) on one sticky chair, with (sometimes sticky) desk. My session begins in silent meditation requiring only three props: a PC, a keyboard, and an endless cup of Starbucks coffee.

As I quiet my mind, “Turn! Turn! Turn!” (written by Pete Seger 1959, made popular by The Byrds in 1965), chants in my head, "To everything there is a season." However, the tune plays out in my own words ("a time to write,” which is my mantra).

When you’re a freelance writer not punching in daily at 9 a.m. and out at 5 p.m., the only clock you’re on is your own. Finding your right time to write is the secret to writing your best. But how do you find it? Like all forms of yoga, you must practice before knowing what feels right.

For me, that’s between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. As my mind becomes one with my fingers, an awareness of my inner thoughts connects with the letters creating words that flow one by one from keyboard to screen.

When I write, nothing else matters. I am in another place, another state of consciousness; it’s my composing escape, transcendental in meditation.

Writing, like yoga involves discipline. Staying centered through my Pranayama (breath) helps me to drop the "G" in the “OMG” deadline stress, leaving more spirited moments.

Similar to other forms of yoga, my session reaches its peak (about 1 p.m.) and winds down closing with a welcomed relaxed Shavasana (rest) (3 p.m. - 5 p.m.), which may, unlike studio yoga, include a chilled glass of wine.

I carry this feeling with me throughout my day wherever I go, as all yoga Instructors suggest. Subconsciously, I edit and rewrite in my head with every breath I take. I do this as I eat, bathe, and sleep until that piece I’m working on is signed, sealed, and submitted.

Call me obsessed, but everyone has their time and habits, and learning what they are reveals the secret to their writing zone, which is not something anyone can teach or tell you.

While my form takes place in the morning at a desk in my home, I have discovered many were also a.m. writers. Does the early writer get the publisher? These writers did.

John Grisham had greater plans to follow than just being the lawyer he was, and every day at 5:30 a.m. he began his writing day of one page at his home office with coffee and legal pad at hand before heading for the firm.

Emily Post wrote her renowned book, "Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics, and at Home," starting at 6:30 a.m. from her bed (with breakfast) until noon, taking only one break to give the hired help their orders, and here's hoping in a mannerly fashion.

Stephen King’s day starts between 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. with the exact same routine of vitamins, music, water, or tea before writing. He believes consistency provides a signal to the mind.

Whether you are a morning, afternoon, or evening writer who needs coffee or tea to keep your cerebral motor running or a breakfast in bed to graciously open your inspirational gates, you need to listen to your inner voice. Some need music and others need silence; all have their own set of customs. For every person, there is apparently a reason for their routine and idiosyncrasies.

I’m not sure a writing practice ever makes for perfect, but in my mind’s eye it does, at least until the next session. Namaste.

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Phyllis Briskman is a verse contributor and does PR/marketing. She sharpened her first pencil as retail fashion copywriter, writing to count before Twitter tweeted its first hello. Later, she flew the cubicle to do freelance creative becoming a writer of all trades, from beauty to fitness for catalogs, magazines, and websites. Born to brainstorm, she's named retail businesses and website domains. She loves quick wit, survives on laughter, is a little hokey, but aims to please because that’s what life’s all about.

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