At the February meeting of Polk State’s Creative Writing Club, attendees laughed hysterically as they pushed imaginary lawnmowers across the classroom floor and milked imaginary cows.
Had the stress of their latest short stories, the pressure of their unfinished poems, or the burden of writer’s block finally sapped their sanity?
The lawnmower and cow-milking exercises were just two of laughter yoga teacher Victoria Dym’s tips on preparing for the writing process, and might just be the keys to unlocking students’ creativity.
“I definitely think I’ll utilize these strategies. They’re great for releasing stress, and I think they help give you the clarity of thought that you need for new ideas,” said Auburndale resident Jennifer Striklen, who is pursuing her Associate in Arts degree.
Dym, who has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and is the author of the poetry chapbook “Class Clown,” began her session by explaining that laughter yoga involves yogic breathing and forced laughter that quickly turns into genuine giggles and guffaws. All the deep breathing and laughing sends oxygen to one’s brain, which clears the way for creative thoughts, Dym said.
“When your brain is oxygenated, it makes you happy,” Dym said.
Dym walked the Creative Writing Club members through a variety of exercises that, uncomfortably fake at first, quickly morphed into true fun. They pretended to drive, ride a roller coaster, open their credit card bills, and vacuum their rooms, all while forcing themselves to laugh. Then, after the laughter had turned real and the oxygen was coursing through their veins, Dym had the students write snippets of stories and haikus.
Her pre-writing strategies may not work for everyone, Dym acknowledged, but they’re worth a try when students find themselves staring at a blinking cursor and a blank screen.
“Remember these the next time you’re in a funk or have writer’s block,” Dym said.
Student Pam Vickers, a Lakeland resident also pursuing her Associate in Arts degree, said she intended to take Dym’s advice — and not only when trying to put words on the page.
“I’m really glad I came. We got up, we looked each other in the eye. I was having a bad day, so it was perfect timing. These are great daily coping techniques, but I’ll also try them in my writing,” she said.
The Creative Writing Club’s next meeting will be at 3 p.m. on March 17 at Polk State Lakeland in room LAC 1259. The topic is self-publishing and the speaker will be retired Polk State professor Chloe Warner Gamble. For more information about the club, contact adviser Eileen Murphy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 863.255.7436.
The Creative Writing Club is one of more than 50 clubs and organizations offered by Polk State’s SALO (Student Activities and Leadership Office).