3 Ways that an Essay and Yoga Need to be Accessible

Thursday, February 13, 2020
“I’m sorry Angela, that type of essay is simply not accessible to me today.” I was being cheeky when I said this, but seriously? Don’t read one of her published essays in the middle of drafting your own. If you are a newbie like me, you may feel just a tad intimidated. Not that my cheeky comment did any good. She simply suggested that I turn my tiny-tantrum into an essay.

I’m not ready to try drafting that essay just yet. But the whole exchange was still bouncing around in my head while I was in yoga. Maybe that’s why I realized how similar essay writing and yoga can be. Individual poses and individual essays both have to be accessible.

Accessibility in yoga is all about what you can do now. The reality is that no yoga student can do every pose every day. Sometimes it has to do with how a joint is formed or whether or not you’ve experienced a recent injury. Weather and time of day can also play a part.

Even if you are a really good writer, a particular essay may not always be accessible. Here’s why.

More Knowledge Needed. When I was new to yoga, the instructor would say “We are going to do the pigeon/upward dog/reclining cow.” I would know that very soon I was going to be lost. I’m a new essay writer. I know there are different types of essays far beyond the four types we studied in high school. But when people start dropping terms, I get lost. I just don’t know enough to understand what they are saying, but that’s okay. The longer I practiced yoga, the more poses became accessible. If I read essays and read about essay writing, more forms will become accessible.

A Rough Piece vs a Polished Piece. As I learned more and more poses, I was ready to try a combination known as a vinyasa or flow. My instructor would practice the flow ahead of time and it was frustrating to compare my first attempt with her polished version. Comparing a rough essay with a published essay that has been rewritten many times is sure to be frustrating.

Trying Too Soon. I’ve also found that trying to practice yoga too soon after an injury or illness means that things I normally do aren’t accessible. Healing has to take place. When I’m trying to write a personal essay about something I experienced, I often need a bit of distance. When I try to write about things that I am still processing, it doesn’t matter if I’m writing an essay or a blog post, I just can’t pull together a coherent, cohesive whole. Before this is possible, healing may need to take place.

It isn’t just essay writing. Most types of writing are like yoga. There’s going to be a learning curve, even things you know will be tricky when combined in new ways, and sometimes you have to put something aside for now and write about it at a later date. Not everything is going to be accessible every day. Be flexible and honor your practice.

Sue Bradford Edwards' is the author of over 25 books for young readers.  To find out more about her writing, visit her blog, One Writer's Journey.  Sue is also the instructor for  Research: Prepping to Write Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults. The next session begins  March 2nd, 2020. 


Marcia Peterson said...

Great analogy, Sue! I think you'll grow into some great essay writing. :)

Angela Mackintosh said...

I love this post, Sue! And not just because you complimented my essay skills; but seriously though, I love you for that! ;)

It's SO true about reading writers' published essays and comparing your work-in-progress to them. I do it all the time and get discouraged for a minute, and then get inspired by the possibilities of bouncing off others' essays, thinking how I could incorporate a technique they used to better my own work. Staying flexible. (Your yoga metaphor is spot on.)
I relate a lot to your Trying Too Soon section, and there is much excavation that goes on while writing about yourself. Although, I find value in writing about things immediately. Many writers tell you not to do this, to wait until you have distance and perspective, but if you write about something right after it happened, there's a rawness to the words and emotion that you can't harness down the line. So I like to do both and mix them together. :)

"Be flexible and honor your practice." Wise words, Sue!

I'm definitely doing yoga today after reading your post. :)

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Thank you!

Writing about things helps me realize what I need to process. Then, post-processing, I can finish writing. I understand what you mean about raw words and emotions and I can do that part. But wrap it up? Create something that's tight and smooth? Nope.

My essay is with Sioux now so I guess I'll find out if I managed to pull it off.

Sioux Roslawski said...

Sue--Yes. You pulled it off beautifully. It's got bits of levity. It's got poignancy. It's super tight. Bravo! (See my email that was sent in the middle of the night for more details... but thanks for sharing it. Submit it as soon as you finish any last-minute touches you want to add.)

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Thank you so much for your help. And your encouragement.

Folks, Sioux has herded and nudged to the point that I am submitting my first essay!

Angela Mackintosh said...

How exciting, Sue! Congrats on submitting your first essay! :)

And Sioux, you're awesome!

Amber Polo said...

Yoga teaches so many things for managing life. And writing.
Don't look in the mirror at yourself.
Don't compare yourself to anyone.
Remember it's a practice.

And Breathe!

Cathy C. Hall said...

I absolutely agree with your yoga and writing analogy. Though if I'm being perfectly honest, I know nothing about yoga. I'm just using my imagination and your wonderful context clues to figure it out. :-)

Good luck with the essay, Sue; that's a form that's way harder than it looks!

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Remember to take a moment and breathe is definitely critical in both practices!

Thank you! My essays are fairly straightforward but I'm learning that even those that look straightforward are not.


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