One of our beloved TGY Berkeley yogis, Helena Echlin, just recently published a supernatural thriller “Sparked“. Discover how her journey through her yoga practice has influenced her writing in her article below.
I recently published a novel, Sparked. It’s the story of Laurel Goodwin, whose sister Ivy is kidnapped – and the only people who can help Laurel save Ivy are the mean girls at school, who just happen to have developed superpowers. What does my supernatural thriller have to do with sun salutations? Well, here’s something that writing and yoga have in common: at times they can both feel like torture. Seriously, though, my practice at the wonderful Green Yogi and at home (um, when I have the willpower), has taught me three lessons that have made me a better writer.
Practice regularly. It doesn’t have to be daily, but it does have to be a few times a w
eek. Practice makes you better, but it’s not this end goal that matters. It’s the practice itself that matters. It might seem that in writing, unlike with yoga, you are working towards a specific outcome—finishing and publishing your book. But my experience and talking with other writers have taught me that the best part is the time you spend at your desk, writing the book—just as yoga is about the time
you spend on the mat, not about whether you ever get into Firefly Pose.
Slow down and notice. In yoga, you learn to pay attention to the present, to the nuances of your physical and emotional sensations. You learn to observe your own thoughts, like where did my neighbor get those cool yoga pants, and why am I the only person sweating in this class? (And in doing so, you learn to let those thoughts go.) This skill helps me enter a character—to be present in someone else’s mind and body. I’m better able to take the time to imagine how that character’s body is feeling, and pay attention to their unfolding emotions.
Get comfortable with discomfort. When I’m stuck on a plot question and wondering whether I should just trash the entire book, I’ll just sit with that discomfort, the same way I’ll hold Warrior Two even though my shoulders are aching. I’ll even tell myself that not knowing the answer to a question is a good thing, a sign I’m pushing myself out of my comfort zone—just like falling over in a balancing pose. I suffer from insecurity too, just like every other writer I’ve ever met: am I good enough? Is this the right project? Is this worth it? My writing students often ask me how I overcome these doubts and my answer is: you don’t, you learn to live with them. But yoga helps.
Buy Helena’s book on Amazon today + support your community yogi – available in paperback, kindle + audiobook!