Embodied Writing: Somatic Practices to Improve Your Work
with Rosemary Tantra Bensko
July 22, 2020 | 6 Weeks |
This course builds on Embodied Writing: Improve Your Writing with Full-Body Creativity, but the courses can be taken individually or in either order.
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.
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. Each unit features extensive 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.
Week 1: Exercise, and then muscularize your prose by cutting extra words, using powerful verbs and fresh, invigorating language.
Week 2: Vocalize and breathe as you explore, separate and refine the author’s and narrator’s voice that you then demonstrate your unique voice in a passage with attitude. Readers return to an author book after book because of the voice. What do you have to say? It may be all about how you speak.
Week 3: Give yourself sensual experiences such as standing in the rain with no umbrella or raincoat, face upturned, or rolling down a hill or lying down naked on sharp gravel or sliding down carpeted stairs on your butt. Write as passage including those situational sensations.
Week 4: Push past any fears of expressing yourself to discover what’s underneath your armor. If there’s someone encouraging and accepting of you, do this exercise with him or her watching, even if it’s onscreen with someone who lives far away (it could be your instructor or a fellow student if you like). Start by physically exaggerating your response to something neutral like eating something a dinner party hostess has cooked that you dislike — or hearing the sound of songbirds and how you want to sing back to them. Keep doing the poetic movement interpretations of your feelings about whatever words and phrases you want, such as “unrequited love,” or “loss of faith,” or “uncertainty” until you reach the limit of your vulnerability. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, do it just for yourself. Write a passage that includes at least one of those themes or sensations.
Week 5: Are your ligaments too loose, your ankles unstable? Do you give in too easily without standing up to yourself? Conversely, are your muscles tight? Do you get defensive and stubbornly hold onto beliefs even when presented with new facts that mean you should let go of them? What truths do you keep hidden in those parts of your body? Do strengthening stabilizing physical exercises throughout the week, envisioning being able to stand your ground. Do stretching sessions and envision becoming more flexible in your thoughts and feelings. Tune into those parts of your body to see what lives there and channel that into a passage.
Week 6: Do measured breathwork (Pranayama) to write an expansive passage or to envision all the beauty and power of the potential of any passage you’ve written during the class, before revising and polishing it.
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