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Creativity coach, writing and creative process instructor, speaker, author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Write the Way You Want (Penguin/Tarcher 2012) and Dancing in the Dragon's Den (Red Wheel Weiser), Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center.

Writer’s Block or Creatively Cramped? Give Yourself Space to Create!

deskI hate it when anyone leaves something on my desk.

In all honesty, my office is typically in a state of creative flux (aka messy). Some might question how I can even tell that someone has touched my desk.

So it’s certainly not that I fixate on things being in a particular place. It’s pure territoriality — “this is my space, don’t leave your stuff here, growl, growl.” I know it’s petty and I’ve always tried to hide my irritation.

But now I think there might be more to it.

Expansive constricted posesResearch shows that people who have the space to assume expansive postures — head and chest up, arms stretched out, legs hip-width or wider — have greater sense of personal power than people who are cramped into spaces that push them into constrictive postures — head tucked, shoulders hunched, elbows and arms tucked close to the torso, legs crossed.

That greater sense of power can cause people to feel entitled and to act on that entitlement in negative ways — they’re more likely to cheat on tests or violate traffic laws with a sense of impunity.

But that sense of personal power can also give us permission to express ourselves creatively and to expand our intellect and imagination.

Moving Is the Way Out of Resistance

Moving our bodies moves our minds and imagination. This may be why so many writers use walking as a ritual entry-point to their writing or as a way to move through the places where they’re stuck.

Even subtle movements of the body affect our emotions, perceptions and behavior. For example, simply arranging your facial muscles in a smile will make you happier.

I don’t think it’s much of a stretch of the imagination to assume that being able to spread out your materials in your workspace and to have physical space to stretch your arms will expand your perspective. Nor is it a reach to assume that feeling physically or psychologically constricted will inhibit your writing.

Stretch Out of Resistance

time to writeWriters need room to stretch out. Literally. If you’re going to stretch yourself metaphorically to take risks, to venture into uncertainty, to feel free to explore, experiment and make the messes needed to discover new patterns in the disorder, you need to be able to stretch your body.

Writers need a safe place for our writing and our creative process. Even if you write in public places like coffee shops and libraries, you can “own” your spot if you believe that while you’re there, no one should violate your space without permission from you.

Take a good look at your writing space. Is it a place that encourages you to assume expansive body positions? Do you “own” the space? Are you entitled to growl a little, if only to yourself, when someone leaves something on your desk?

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