If you work mainly from your intuition, have a highly developed ability to feel into your body, are poetic, and possibly have a flair for the dramatic, this technique is for you.
As yoga teachers, we’re pretty used to feeling into our bodies and trusting our intuition.
You can tap into this to start writing your book.
A note, though: If you haven’t yet read Start Writing Your Book in Two Hours or Less: A Practical Guide for Yoga Teachers, start there. That article is like the prep poses or warm-up — it will help open you up for these techniques.
Each technique is divided into four 30-minute writing sessions. You can do these sessions on different days, or all at once, or two at a time, or whatever works for you. Also, these techniques are not mutually exclusive! Feel free to mix and match to create something that works for you.
TECHNIQUE 1. Feel Your Way Into It
First Session (30 minutes)
• Set a timer for 30 minutes
• Freewrite about why you want to write this book, how you feel about the topic, and what comes up for you when you think about it. Focus more on how you feel about the content of the book and less on any fears or worries you have about the process itself.
What words, images, ideas, or themes rise up? How do they present themselves to you? Write these down, in any order, without stopping to worry about writing full sentences or proper grammar or anything else.
It may be that a chapter or idea will want to start writing itself. If this occurs, let it, but don’t purposely try to make this happen. There will be plenty of time for that later.
If you like to draw, feel free to draw any related images that appear to you. Who knows, maybe your book is a yogic graphic novel, or a combo of words and art. The book belongs to you, and whatever comes out of you is perfect.
If you get stuck, answer these questions:
- What about this book matters to you?
- Why does it feel important?
- What about this book is meaningful?
Second Session (30 minutes)
• Set a timer for 30 minutes
• Read over what you wrote in the previous session. Then, for five minutes, sit quietly without writing anything and let what you just read sink into your body. Hold space for the very deepest heart of your book to appear. If you have a flash of understanding during this time and are afraid it might disappear, feel free to open your eyes and write it down.
• After five minutes, gently open your eyes and write down anything that came to you while you were sitting.
• Now, look through all your notes. Is there a common theme, an over-arcing idea, or a foundation of the book that has revealed itself? Are chapters or ideas appearing to you? Are you seeing a structure of some kind, a sequence? If you are, write that down, however it appears to you.
• Whether something has revealed itself to you or not, spend whatever time you have left in this session jotting down ideas or snippets of ideas about what you would like to include in this book.
Third Session (30 minutes)
• Set a timer for 30 minutes
• Look back over what you wrote in the last session.
• For the next 10 minutes, freewrite more ideas for what you would like to include in the book. If you started this in the last session, continue it now. If you didn’t, just start here. You can list stories you want to tell, ideas you want to explore, specific poses you want to highlight — or you can start to construct a loose table of contents. Let these notes be as rough, sparse, or filled-out as you like.
• When your ten minutes are up, read over all your notes from the past three sessions. Then, mark everything you particularly love, either by highlighting it or putting an asterisk next to it.
• Copy all the pieces that you have marked into a separate page. If you are writing longhand, rewrite them on a new page.
• OK…now, here’s the fun part: Read this new page or pages OUT LOUD to yourself. Play with this! Let the words flow or sing or chant or come out of you however seems right. Also, I highly suggest standing up and letting yourself move in whatever way seems to go with the words. You can even match yoga poses to each piece you read (which, um, might end up in your book).
The act of reading out loud does two things: it lets us experience our words in a different way from how they are experienced on the paper, and it lets us feel the words throughout the body.
As you read the words out loud, notice which parts flow easily and which parts make you stumble. And, see if you can notice why. Sometimes we stumble over something we wrote because it isn’t actually true for us, and reading it aloud makes that clear. Other times, we stumble because it’s so true that it may be difficult or painful. Only you know which it is. And as a general rule of writing, if it’s true/painful/difficult, it’s probably exactly what we need to write.
That said, if you stumble because you don’t like or believe the idea after all, note that and consider crossing that idea off your list.
As you read and/or move with your words, write down any book-related thoughts, ideas, revelations, or comments that come to you.
Fourth Session (30 minutes)
• Set a timer for 30 minutes.
• At this point, it’s likely that a loose structure for your book has revealed itself, or you have found at least one or two ideas you want to explore. Now is the time to start writing. So, there are two options for this session.
OPTION 1 – Pick one idea you love and start writing it. Let the words flow out of you and don’t edit!! Let it be terrible. There will be plenty of time to revise in the future. For now, get the words out and onto the page. If you choose this option, this is how you keep writing your book: one idea you love at a time, until you can see the structure and flow and start to organize.
OPTION 2 – Construct a loose table of contents (TOC). This is particularly helpful if your book is more of a how-to book. If you use this option, once you have the TOC written out, pick one topic and write on that without editing at all. Then, pick another and do the same. Before you know it, you’ll have a first draft!
WOO-HOO! You’ve started your book!
• To keep going on your book, set time in your schedule to write 30 minutes 1-6 times a week, whatever fits into your life. And, for this first draft, don’t edit. Just write.
A note on organization: As you write, I highly recommend you save yourself eons of time later and write each idea in a separate document, as though they were each an individual article or blog post, and NOT in one giant document that contains everything. That way, when you decide to move things around, it will not take you hours and hours to find and move each piece.
This can be done in any word processing program, but if you’re adventurous when it comes to new software, Scrivener is a godsend for writers. It will let you organize your work incredibly easily, and it’s cheap. But if the idea of trying a new kind of software makes you want to cry, then just use Word or Pages or whatever word processing program you like.
How did it go? Tell me your favorite thing about this process in the comments below. Or, ask any questions about this technique. I read and reply to every comment. And if you find this useful, feel free to share it with other yoga teachers.
Want to try a different technique?
Technique 2. Plan your way into it — good if you like planning and structure and are good with details
Technique 3. Start at the end — good if you resonate with visualizations or affirmations
Technique 4. Working from existing writings — good if you want to gather together newsletters, blog posts, or journal entries into a book