The Other Writing Group

McKenzie, Vahri (2019). The Other Writing Group: an embodied workshop, TEXT Special Issue 57: Peripheral Visions.

New insights and approaches to creative activity grounded in embodiment have the potential to enhance creative writing practices by focusing on the embodied dimensions of writing, such as undertaking whole organism warm-ups, and attending to the material set-up of a workshop. This article presents findings from a pilot research project called The Other Writing Group that offered a structure for writers to explore embodied strategies in a community of peers. The structure employed by the group owes its origins to dance researcher Nancy Stark Smith’s Underscore, a collaborative creative model for practising and researching improvisation. It is argued that embodied and social approaches to writing, more usually associated with performing arts, can critique notions of the writer as virtuoso and innovator, and instead present repetition and habit as significant in a fuller account of productive practice. Feedback and reflections from participants in the group suggest that approaches to practice which emphasise social and embodied dimensions can enhance individual creative writing practice.