When you finish your writing session, are you frowning? Are your lips compressed or pursed forward? Are you gritting your teeth? Are you biting the inside of your mouth? Are your lips pulled to one side? Do your eyes feel heavy?
When we write, we often end up with tight muscles all through the body: shoulders scrunched up, body core slumped, chin pressing forward.
Just as we forget about our body as it gets stuck in a less than healthy position while we write, it doesn’t occur to us to think about what’s happening in our faces.
Unless you’re a writer who can’t bear to ignore a ringing phone, your facial muscles might remain immobile (i.e., stuck!) for long periods of time.
I’ve been writing long hours the last few months and noticed I not only finish my writing session with my face tight, but I wake up in the morning gritting my teeth.
So I thought it was time to check out some facial exercises. There’s some pretty unattractive vocabulary around facial exercises (sagging, drooping, aging….), but I ignored all that. What I was looking for were exercises that would keep my facial muscles lively!
A couple of my favorites (links below for more exercises):
- with the tips of four fingers on your eyebrows, pull your eyebrows away from each other – and hold. Pull your eyebrows towards each other. Use the muscles between your eyebrows rather than your fingers. I find this exercise works well with just the index fingers touching the outside of the eyebrows.
- tilting your head to look up at the ceiling, make chewing motions for 20 seconds.
- with your index finger on the outside of your eyes, lift and lower your lower lids.
To my surprise I’ve found that after doing the exercises I sit much straighter and my shoulders are more relaxed.
I also find the exercises are a great help in getting me focused and into my writing flow really quickly. This seems logical as it’s well documented that to work with optimum creativity, the mind should be alert and the body relaxed. Body includes face.
As a fun bonus, some of these ‘facial poses’ prompted ideas for characters or for emotions my characters may be experiencing.
For example, try the following ‘facial poses’ and let the feeling from the expression seep into you. Ask yourself: What am I feeling? What’s going on? Who am I?
- raise your eyebrows, open your eyes wide and frown with your mouth
- open your eyes as wide as possible without raising your eyebrows
- ask yourself the questions above at any moment while doing this exercise: look straight ahead: look up and count to five; look down for five; look right for five; left for five. Turn your head to the right and repeat the exercise. (all from How to Exercise Facial Muscles)
Useful Links for Face Exercises