Writing as Spiritual Practice — Insights from Haruki Murakami

Murakami_Haruki_(2009)Like yoga, writing can be a spiritual path. By “spiritual,” I mean the experience of unity — when mind and body work together.

If you don’t like spiritual, then say integrative instead. Either word describes a daily practice that fuses physical movement and creativity.

My inspiration comes from novelist Haruki Murakami, who knows this territory well. When interviewed for The Paris Review, he said:

When I’m in writing mode for a novel, I get up at 4:00 am and work for five to six hours. In the afternoon, I run for 10km or swim for 1500m (or do both), then I read a bit and listen to some music. I go to bed at 9:00 pm. I keep to this routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind. But to hold to such repetition for so long—six months to a year—requires a good amount of mental and physical strength. In that sense, writing a long novel is like survival training. Physical strength is as necessary as artistic sensitivity.

(For more details, see The Running Novelist, Murakami’s article for the The New Yorker.)

I used to think of exercise as a break from the work day. Murakami reminds me to see physical movement as part of the creative process.

Image: Galorean.com, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License