Last Saturday I led my first 3-hour (online, necessarily) Yoga for Writing workshop with 15 participants. I was delighted with how it went, very grateful for Level Six‘s support and enthusiasm for a band new thing, and people gave me lovely feedback, both in the workshop and afterwards, so I’m pretty sure it worked. Yay.
But there’s something else that worked that wasn’t about the workshop, it was about following my nose, building on an idea, about making something that wasn’t there before, embracing my uncertainty.
That’s what I’m sharing here, in case it’s useful to others.
I booked my first standup gig (back in 1988) before I had done any standup. I didn’t know I could improvise before I tried. I didn’t call myself a writer before I wrote my first book (I didn’t call myself a writer until I had three books published). I didn’t know anything about creating (let alone co-directing) a movement before we made Fun Palaces.
I have largely done the things I’ve done because I said yes to an offer from someone else (“do you want to do a standup gig?”, “do you want to come to my impro workshop?”) or because I said yes to a drive or passion in myself – “Someone should do something to celebrate Joan Littlewood’s centenary. Oh. That someone is me.”
I’ve always learned on the job, worked out what I’m doing while doing it.
The Yoga for Writing workshop was a little different. I knew that yoga and writing worked for me. I’ve done yoga for decades, I’ve written for decades. When I teach writing workshops, I teach it as a physical practice. Writing is a physical exercise; we write of the body, whether by hand or on screen or voice activated software, we write with our physical selves. We use the embodied self to write, yet often we pretend that’s not happening, that it’s all happening in the head and the body has nothing to do with it.
The body has everything to do with creativity.
Until the past two years I had trained in nothing. I didn’t go to drama school, I didn’t do a creative writing course, I didn’t do a leadership course, all my training has been in doing. Doing is a GREAT training. But with this idea (as with my longer term idea of creating a psychotherapy space with yoga mats and creative/play materials) I needed a specific training encompassing asana, anatomy, philosophy, history, method and sharing. Choosing to train in yoga teaching opened a space in which I could bring my own experience and new learning to make something new.
Training doesn’t preclude screwing up in public or in private. Not every workshop will work for everyone. There will be yogis and writers and both and neither for whom my combination of yoga and writing doesn’t work. (My current combination is chakra-based asana sequences flowing into related writing exercises, no doubt this too will change.) My training to teach yoga won’t ever save me from ‘failing’ to be or to offer what some people want from my workshops. But it did give me an ability to create a workshop based on some old possibilities and some new maybes. What I do with it, as ever, is up to me.
My yoga teacher training also gave me a new community – the people I trained with and other yoga teachers I am getting to know better. My psychotherapy training is doing the same. Having new communities of learning and growing helps hugely.
Sometimes (writing novels, Fun Palaces) I have followed an interest, an inkling, and just done stuff.
Sometimes (yoga, psychotherapy training) I have followed an interest, an inkling, and carved out the time and earned money to pay other people to help me learn.
Every time something was made only because I followed my curiosity, my maybe – without knowing where it would lead, without knowing if it would work.
My maybes have led me down many dead ends out of which new maybes have arrived.
I think this means that ALL of the maybes matter.
Maybe say yes to your maybe?
image is from Brockwell Lido Fun Palace, 2014