The physicality of writing is a twofold thing. The first I’ve spoken about before, and it’s more to do with what you do when you’re not writing. For me that’s either when I’m planning, or thinking, or get an internal snatch of something a character might say or do. It’s often when I’m out walking in the countryside, and is a sort of breathing, meditative space for ideas to come and go, to roll around in my head and see if they fit. Sometimes, I just need a break from anything to do with writing. Usually when I’ve had a great morning’s work and although I know what I want to write next, nothing will come because I need to rest my brain before carrying on. Because writing involves a lot of sitting on the backside, I need to be physical – clean the bathroom with Mildred Bailey, stick a film on and iron, prepare dinner with some Sidney Bechet and have a dance, practice yoga. Whatever it is, it will get me grounded back into my body so my brain can have time out.
Then there’s the physicality of the writing of my scenes (I think in scenes rather than chapters as I’m so visual). I’m guessing that this isn’t just one of my weird peculiarities? If my character is angry, then as I write their words my jaw is clenched. If he’s depressed then I find myself closing my eyes frequently (handy to prevent dry eyes from too much screen time). If she’s happy, you can bet I’m smiling and maybe bouncing on the chair. If he’s frustrated, I’m unable to sit still – fidget, fidget, fidget. If she’s trying to explain herself, I’m probably pacing the floor, with the laptop balanced on the side. Writing a gripping scene can be quite physically exhausting. Writing a sad scene, or ending a character’s life is draining. I can’t write very well in the evening. On the odd occasion when I have, I find I don’t sleep for ages, and I think that’s to do with my heightened mood state, and my body and mind being in a state of action like the character. I also read out loud each completed chapter before moving on. I used to do this just with dialogue, to check it sounded natural, but now I just read all of it. It’s a good way to make sure the story flows and is somehow more affirming than just acknowledging a word count for the day.