In another post I asked “How could you experiment with working in a relaxed state?” I proposed that the ways in which my yoga teacher has been encouraging us to work within the comfortable range of movement and not stretch our muscles to their limits might also apply to your writing and other work.
In order to get used to what that feels like, we sometimes experiment with making the smallest possible movements. However, making small movements isn’t just about getting used to working in a relaxed state.
Why do the smallest possible movement?
My yoga teacher also knows that sometimes small movements develop different muscles. You can do big movements just using the big muscles but if you develop the smaller supporting muscles you will then be able to use them along with the big muscles. That enables you to do much more.
If you never isolate those small muscles, they get a free ride and don’t get developed. You limit your potential range of movement because you aren’t using all the muscles you could.
The work I do in my own 15-minute daily yoga practice involves a lot of this small muscle work. It doesn’t look or feel like much when I’m doing it. I decided to trust that my teacher knew what she was talking about and focus on isolating those muscles and working as small as possible. In the 6 months I’ve been maintaining that practice I have noticed significant changes in the tightness of my hamstrings, and the range of motion of my hips and shoulders. That makes a difference to the way I can approach the poses in the weekly class I attend.
What does this mean for your writing practice?
15 minutes of writing isn’t necessarily less than other kinds of writing. You don’t have to approach it as “better than nothing”.
Writing for 15 minutes might be developing skills that will help with 90-minute writing sessions, or even full-day or multi-day writing retreats. It might be valuable to work this way as part of your regular practice even if you can find longer chunks of time. Just as it is valuable for me to do these very small movements in yoga.
How do you know? You experiment.
The great thing about 15 minutes is that even if it isn’t worth it, it’s not a lot of “wasted” time. I’m also pretty sure it won’t be wasted. At a minimum 15 minutes a day will bridge your writing between longer sessions that happen less frequently.
Try the 15 minutes/day Academic Writing Challenge. See what happens for you. (Remember, it takes time before the benefits are really noticeable. Commit for a semester. Trust.)