An embodied experiment to explore an idea before committing to it

woman floating in water with face above surface, embodied experiment
Photo by Jernej Graj on Unsplash

Do you find yourself thinking too hard about a project before starting?  

Say you like the idea of writing a historical novel, but you’ve never written in that genre before. 

Before spending too much time planning out what you need to research, or reading ALL the books and listening to ALL the experts talk about it… try a small version.  

With creative work, sometimes you just have to conduct a messy experiment and see what happens.

Here’s an exercise I use with clients that you can try out yourself:

  1. Shake out your arms and legs, imagining that you’re shaking off the hold of your intellectual mind to let your creativity take over. 
  1. Pretend you’re stepping into a time machine
    Close your eyes and actually take that step.  (This works best when you’re alone and away from your roommate or pet’s potential judgment.) 
  2. Where does the time machine take you? 
    Ah, here you are in the Victorian era, replete with wealth and beauty.  
  1. Look down at yourself as you step out of your time machine. 
    Perhaps your corset changes your gait, your hat is comfortingly snug, or catching sight of your splendidly shined shoes fills you with satisfaction.
  1. Move around your room as this Victorian character. 
    Really feel in your body what it’s like to be this person.
  2. Spend around 20 minutes writing this historical fiction scene. 
    What details (colors, textures, objects, settings) did you notice?  What mood or tone (playful, somber, comforting, unbalanced, etc) are you sensing?  Who did you become?  What was happening?
  1. Tune into your body and notice how it felt to conduct this experiment. 
    How did you actually like the experience?  Is this character one you could fall in love and spend hours with?  Do you feel the urge to continue, or was this taste of historical fiction too bland to bother?  
  1. Take notes on the experience, including what most lit you up. 
  2. Use this information to plot your next course of action.

Moving your body and the experimental mindset are great antidotes to overthinking. 

If you try this out, let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear from you!