Embodied Writing: Improve Your Writing with Full-Body Creativity

with Rosemary Tantra Bensko

embodied writing interview | writing and the body

November 11, 2019 | 6 Weeks |

$330.00

Text-Based

Our wild animal bodies want out of their cages. They don’t like sitting and typing in civilized, cerebral ways while your mind is trying to describe vivid, full-bodied action scenes that breathe and live. Set your body free while you take breaks from writing and see how much more agile your words become.

Each unit includes unique specific exercises created by your instructor that will dare you to ever again be able to write abstract narratives with bare dialogue, insipid Climaxes, passive verbs, and weak Crises. Muscularize your prose now! No longer write as if you were a disembodied brain. Once you train yourself to use your whole body to generate ideas, you’ll be surprised how confident you can become in your ability to plot. Move passionately to aid your process in deciding key elements such as the theme of your narrative.

The assignment descriptions default to fiction writing, but apply to poetry, memoir, screenwriting and other forms. The word count you turn in each week is up to you; you’ll receive feedback from us with suggestions on improving its quality and strengthening your skill set. Bond with your classmates with enhanced flexibility of self-expression. Each week is one-of-a-kind fun physical exploration that you can look forward to. Brief but regular bursts of physical activity that disrupts sedentary period such as required for writing have been proven to greatly affect not only health but creativity.

While it is partially a physical exercise course, you’re welcome to participate regardless of what condition you’re in. If you have the capability — don’t sit there trying to figure things out from a static position: get up regularly and move. Science shows that being sedentary has consequences that only getting up regularly can overcome, and even mild exercise improves our creativity and sharp thinking. The combination of movement with specific intentions regarding your project greatly benefits your fitness and mood while also encouraging the story to flow.

Act out the characters’ walks, gestures, facial expressions and vocal tones. Direct the readers’ emotional responses to the arc of the narrative. As you do an interpretive dance of the plot reversals and ironies, twists, nuanced moods and cadences, you’ll discover new insights. Discover your voice and uncover the messages hidden in your muscles. Pursue new experiences involving your senses and express yourself to someone without words. Improve empathy for your characters and readers and help them empathize with your characters.

You’ll probably want to set aside a space at home to perform these specific movement exercises and one set involves vocalizing. Units feature audio and video instruction that prompt specific movement exercises as well as relatively brief textual materials: in turn, after you do the physical actions and then turn in a written assignment whether a brief fragment or an entire scene. You have the option to be as involved as you like with sound and vision by uploading audio, links to videos or images, but you are not required to appear on camera, and there are no meetings to attend. The course includes your instructor dressed up as various characters in this playful, adventuresome course that should leave you feeling vibrant and refreshed, with a deeper understanding of yourself and a renewed enthusiasm for the act of writing.

This is a brilliant course that any writer would benefit from.
—Julie Gibbs

Course Outline

Week 1: Exercise to encourage yourself to muscularize your prose. As you read something you enjoy that is similar to what you write, question your body to learn what your readers want at a physical level. Note the exact physiological effects and speculate on neurotransmitter involvement. Bodily express and exaggerate what you felt before you read it, as you read it, and after you finished. Write a non-flabby passage implementing what you learned and create those effects in your readers. Describe your reader’s intended bodily reactions and we’ll tune in and let you know if our bodies respond as you hope and if there’s anything we can suggest.

Week 2: Oxygenate, rev up, pay attention to the environment around you with all your senses. Move past stuck thinking and predictable patterns: erratically breathe, move your eyes in disorganized ways and move with disruptive staccato rhythms before writing a lively passage in a clearly described location; included variations of sentence patterns, paragraph lengths and cadence. When you return to your seat, write a passage of muscularized prose. Include awareness of the surroundings, the clothing against the skin or the rush of blood to the face when a character bends over. . .

Week 3: Dramatically act out an action passage as you compose it; include all the senses, the angles of what the character sees as he rolls around on the floor, spatial relationships of people, sounds of contact, wind on the skin, the taste of dust. In the passage, vividly portray bodily reactions in the characters experiencing conflict while engaging in gestures, expressions, interacting with props, bodily reactions and non-verbal communication. Focus on creating physiological empathy in the readers by the order, pacing in which you introduce new information. Reading fiction subconsciously motivates readers to take action similarly to the protagonists.

Week 4: Do the exercises to create well-rounded characters with full-bodied dialogue full of subtext. Bodily express the feeling of the shape of the plot arc, the dramatic tension, the emotions you want your readers to feel. Write a passage including surprising dialogue leaps and describe the plot arc you decided on. Training yourself to use creative movement to help you generate ideas is invaluable for your entire writing future.

Week 5: Mine your subconscious by using your body. Act out any dream you remember, and then act out a faux dream. Handwrite an emotional passage, including using your non-dominant hand to delve deep. Revise and transcribe it for us and inform us about what you learned.

Week 6: Act out characters of your choice, speaking in their voices, ideally using some kind of prop or bit of a costume. Then act out a character who has the specific quality of being charismatic. Write charismatic passages including an expansive, proactive characters in a dramatic scene with unique voices in the dialogue.

Questions about the course content? Contact instructor directly.
Learn more about how our courses work here, and contact us with any other questions.

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Student Feedback for Rosemary Tantra Bensko:

Rosemary is the real thing. She is experienced and knowledgable, tough and fair, thorough and completely supportive. It's clear that she understood what I was trying to do; she supported that. Anne Hodges White

I love Rosemary.  Her feedback was generous and helpful. I thought the lectures were the best so far on Writers.com. There are a few classes I'm looking forward to taking.  I really like working with Rosemary, she's wonderful. Laura Secor

I am thrilled that not only did I get started writing poems, but with the inspiration and guidance provided in Poetry Workshop, have actually written a few that feel meaningful to me. I even have had one accepted for publication! Melissa Haylock

Rosemary was amazing, and her lessons so thoughtful and thought provoking. After 34 years since the last time I tried to write poetry I was quite nervous, but she helped me start to find my voice again and I remembered how deeply I had loved poetry. Barbara White

I loved Poetry Workshop. Rosemary was both pointed and supportive in her critique, and I really feel I developed as a writer. She pulled fantastic poetry for our weekly readings, and her lessons were always clear and constructive. Tamara Kreutz

Rosemary Bensko is an excellent teacher. Her course instruction and selection of poems are to the point. She's also very sharp in commenting on our writings and guiding us to improve our pieces. Her recorded analysis of a poem for each unit is my favorite. It's full of insight and her voice is so pleasant. Hongying Liu

Rosemary Bensko's instructional materials and attention to student work is professional and engaged beyond the expectations for an online course. Her attention to our work is so prompt and engaged—she takes the construction of a good poem seriously and that's exactly what you want in a poetry instructor. She attends to language, the presentation of feeling, the development of idea and story in a poem. I'm currently taking my 3rd class with her. Nina Goss

Rosemary's feedback was prompt, copious and direct. She was very honest with her comments without being harsh or negative. Her enthusiasm was contagious and she continuously pushed me to grow and get better. I was also blown away by the breadth and depth of the lectures and associated learning material. Rosemary's resources will offer me months if not years of further study. Marcus Hilgers

This course was challenging and fun. Rosemary's critiques were very helpful and I am a better poet thanks to her constructive and encouraging comments. It forced me to write each week and that was good for my body and soul. Gwen Morden

Rosemary was excellent. She had a way with words! I admired her ability to herd a rag-tag band of wannabe writers a little further down the writing road. George Simard

Rosemary is an excellent teacher, encouraging yet critical at the same time. She helped my hone my writing skills and improve the structure of my work. Judy Hampson

I was thrilled with my first course with Writers.com and with my instructor, Rosemary Bensko. This was a way for me to begin writing regularly with support and feedback and I learned so much more than I had anticipated. Rosemary is a wealth of knowledge and experience, and gives generous, positive feedback that is also direct and useful. I wanted to grow my skills and I felt like I did. I was so happy that I started another course the very next week! Julie Gibbs

Rosemary is brilliant, engaged, gives both inline and general feedback and even includes audio feedback for tackling certain problems in your writing. I learned where my writing belongs and in what genre I was able to write. Rosemary is an inspiring teacher; I’ll be delighted to take another of her classes. Sophie Cayeux

Rosemary taught me so much about using muscular language and avoiding expository narratives. The lectures were amazing. I read them all the time. Benjamin Magie

Rosemary was wonderful. Always encouraging, very kind in feedback but always pushing you on to make the draft better. It’s hard to achieve that balance.  I really liked the way she recorded the feedback so that it felt more personal. I liked the  Haiku Learning website she used too. There was plenty of choice of assignment and they were interesting and challenging. Everything was useful in moving us to the goal of getting our story/stories finished. I thought the notes given were especially interesting and generous and although I am a compulsory buyer of books on writing, there was much that was new or better explained (loved the information on different types of short story - some of which I hadn’t come across; and the discussion of different ways of developing the plot was very useful to me.) I ended up with what I wanted from the course - a goodish draft of a story. I see so many more classes I’d like to do!  Sharon Bakar

Rosemary's editing was amazing! I learned a lot about removing narration and getting to the action. Norma Kaufman

I loved this class. And Rosemary. I feel that I have made a transition (finally) with her and might actually have the confidence to really begin to write seriously . She is honest, constructive and has really help build my confidence. I am away at the moment but will be in touch re private classes with her. I will be interested in any class she is doing! Jeanette del Olmo

Rosemary presented her critiques in a positive light but made relevant and helpful comments. I often took a step away after reading her response to my work and then came back to revise. Each time, I felt that the changes I made improved the quality of the piece. I emailed Rosemary several times with questions, and she was quick to respond. I would not hesitate to take another class from her. I felt the lectures were stimulating and the assignments were challenging. Both forced me to engage and push myself to another level. I have recommended your site to others and hope to continue taking classes from Writers.com. Janis Brams

Have you always wanted to write the perfect story? Explore your inner visions and commit them to paper? Be prepared, Rosemary Bensko will set you on fire...as a teacher she has the unique gift to be able to identify within you your innate spark of creativity and ignite the ether of your imagination, to reveal to you the magic of your words. She is that good. As a writer I can testify to the value of working with Rosemary. Growing up I have always enjoyed words. I love to spin them around, phrasing moments in time, to make them clear and born anew. And when I took her class, Rosemary got that right away and encouraged me to play with the tools of language, providing me resources to help stretch my imagination. With her tutorship, I was able to refine my writing skills while retaining the desire to honor that which flows from the heart. That is a very good thing. I wholeheartedly recommend you take this class and allow Rosemary to help you to bring your writing up to the next level... Paul Barnett

This was challenging and substantive. Rosemary's readings of our posted work were invariably prompt, detailed, and constructive. As usual, the participants were serious, generous, and ambitious writers and readers. Rosemary is engaged and professional. I admire her as a fellow teacher and am grateful to be her student. Nina Goss

Thanks for the class. I downloaded all the lectures. I feel like MicroObstacles and Flow is a great technique. It is taking me time and thought to process... I want to really be able to apply this to my own fiction/works, so I will probably take the class again once I get more of a handle on the technique... I have taken several classes from Rosemary. I have tried to put all of her feedback into practice. My writing (and reading and viewing) craft have improved with every class. One of my pieces that I workshopped in Rosemary's classes has been published. I just feel so grateful for her mentorship and turning me on to Writers.com!... Chris Perkins

Tantra Bensko

About Rosemary Tantra Bensko

Rosemary Bensko—writing as Tantra Bensko—has hundreds of flashes, short stories, novelettes, and a novella in journals such as Mad Hatters Review, The Journal of Experimental Fiction, Fiction International, The Fabulist and anthologies such as Women Writing the Weird I and II, Surreal South, Holdfast, Up, Do, Not Somewhere Else But Here, Looking Back, Writing Disorder 2, Redacted Stories, Quantum Genre on the Planet of the Arts, Cellar Door 111, No Site for the Saved, Cadavre Exquis, Ironic Fantastic 3, and Triangulation: Parch. She also has a over a hundred poems in journals and anthologies, such as Chatahoochie Review, Carolina Quarterly, Florida Review, Hawaii Review, and North of Wakulla. She has several chapbooks, such as The Cabinet of What You Don’t See (ISMs Press) and short story collections, such as Lucid Membrane (Night Publishing). She has published other people’s work as well through a magazine and LucidPlay Publishing. She has won awards for both her poetry and fiction, including Carolina Quarterly — the Academy of American Poets Award, Punkpen, The Iowa Journal of Literary Studies award, and the Oblongata Award from Medulla Review and two awards from Cezanne’s Carrot, and many more. Her four psychological suspense novels have garnered many industry awards, all in large categories. The first, Glossolalia: Psychological Suspense, won the gold medal from Readers Favorite in Intrigue and also the gold award from Literary Titan. Floating on Secrets won a Silver medal from eLit for Romance for all major or small press. And Encore: A Contemporary Love Story of Hypnotic Abduction won the Bronze medal from eLit for Mystery/Thrillers/Suspense, and was listed as one of the dozen best thrillers of the year by BestThrillers, beating competitors Stephen King, John Grisham, and Dean Koontz. Rosemary earned her MA from FSU and MFA from the Iowa Writers Workshop, teaching both places and at Memphis State. She has taught for years through UCLA X Writing Program and her own academy online, and maintains a resource site about experimental writing. She lives in Berkeley.