The Ancient Science That Can Help You Get It Written

Today’s guest post is by Deborah-Zenha Adams. 

Have you ever struggled with focus, concentration, or procrastination? It’s a common problem for writers, who often have to fight to stay put in the chair and get the writing done. In the end, of course, it’s all about making the choice to write no matter what, but you might also want to try a strategy that’s been keeping people grounded, balanced, and feeling fine for millennia.

Ayurveda is a 3,000-year-old approach to wellness that stresses health through balance. It’s a holistic practice, which means it deals with every aspect of life (not just a body part here or a stray symptom there), and it can guide you to a healthier, happier, more productive lifestyle.

Let’s be very clear, though: a true understanding of Ayurveda philosophy and practices requires decades of study and experience. No online quiz or glib aphorism can assess your level of health or the remedies necessary to heal your condition.

That said, the basic Ayurveda principles can be applied to adjust almost every area of your life, and that includes your writing life.


Ayurveda is built on the idea that dis-ease results from an imbalance in forces called doshas. You may prefer to think of them as energy or metaphors, and that will work just fine. Now, this is not a treatise on Ayurveda, so I’m going to keep it simple and refer to the doshas by the elements commonly associated with them: air, fire, and water.

The important thing to remember is that we each contain all three of these forces. This means that you are not defined or excused by an excess of one of them. All three are present at every moment, just in different levels and states.

Doshas aren’t static. They are constantly shifting, moving, increasing and decreasing in response to a multitude of factors. When they’re out of balance, they’ll mess with you physically, emotionally, and mentally. Fortunately, the effects can be mitigated and even used to help you write more and write better.

Let’s dig into a few ways that this ancient science might apply to your writing life. Specifically, how does it affect your ability to get the work done and what adjustments can you make to balance these three energetic forces?


Air characteristics are irregular movement; cold, dry, rough space; and the cold and windy months. When air energy is dominant in your life, you’ll find yourself scribbling words and phrases on anything close to hand—napkins, junk mail envelopes, your shirt, or your hand. That’s because the ideas are flying and zipping around in your mind and there’s no time to fully examine any one of them. Creativity is running wild!

That’s a good thing for writers, isn’t it? Catch the magic soon enough, and you can use it to brainstorm.

But, like increases like, and pretty soon you’ve got a massive air imbalance. You might recognize the symptoms: generalized anxiety and fear, inability to focus, spaciness, airheaded-ness,  emotional highs and lows, debilitating shyness, self-defeating thoughts, and reclusiveness.

When you aren’t writing because your thoughts are scattered and you just can’t settle down long enough to complete a thought, Air is probably overwhelming your system.

 You can settle Air by making a few simple changes:

  • Set boundaries with structured daily routine. Air needs weight to hold it and borders to contain it.
  • Enjoy full-body massages with warming oils, like olive or sesame, to ease dry, rough skin.
  • Reduce foods and surroundings that are light, dry, cold, pungent, bitter, and astringent. Eat warm, well-cooked foods (now isn’t the time for raw foods) to anchor air’s lightness.
  • Keep warm. Curl up in front of the fireplace with a soft afghan, a cup of hot tea, and a soothing book. Surround yourself with soft, warming colors like gold, orange, or yellow.

Specifically for your writing:

  • Write in longhand. Make it slow, methodical, controlled. The very nature of computers, tablets, all those efficient and multitask-capable devices contributes to the scattered thoughts that upset the balance of air.
  • Write between the hours of 2 and 6 a.m. or 2 and 6 p.m.
  • Practice a few gentle, static yoga poses to begin your writing session.
  • Have a cup of herbal tea made with warming spices like ginger, cinnamon, or cardamom.

Motivating phrase: You can write at least a little bit every day. I know you can.


Fire is associated with ambition, efficiency, strong metabolism, skin and hair, and the hotter months of the year.

Fire imbalance: Anger, violence, impatience, inflammation, incautious behavior in the attempt to succeed, aggressiveness, and debilitating perfectionism.

When you aren’t writing because you’re reworking an outline or because you want the words to be exactly right before you commit them to paper, then, yes–fire is out of whack.

 You can calm the Fire by doing this:

  • Keep to a calm and cool daily routine. Begin the day with a centering meditation followed by a cool shower.
  • Eat regularly (Fire needs to be fed!) and have your largest meal around noon.
  • Enjoy a full-body massage with cooling oils like coconut or sunflower oil.
  • Reduce intake of foods and surroundings that are light, hot, oily, sour, sharp, and pungent.
  • Keeping cool. Use the A/C, enjoy a swim, relax in the shade, surround yourself with cooling colors like blue or blue-green.

Specifically for your writing:

  • Write for a prescribed length of time, with an end goal in mind. (example: a certain number of words or pages).
  • Write between the hours of 10 and 2 a.m. or 10 and 2 p.m.
  • Practice a few fun, non-strenuous yoga poses before you begin writing. Try to keep a soft gaze throughout, and remember—you aren’t competing with anyone, not even yourself.
  • Drink coconut water, sweet fruit juice, herbal tea made with mint or chamomile, or cool water.

Motivating phrase: It’s probably not possible to write every day. Or, I dare you to write every day.


Water expresses as cold, heavy, oily, slow, strong, calm, persistent, and the cool and wet months.

Sometimes, though, water picks up earth and becomes sludgy or stagnant. Signs of a Water imbalance include an excess of mucus, sluggish bowel movements, lethargy, stubbornness, emotional overreaction, loss of motivation, and depression.

Water is the master procrastinator! If you’re putting off your daily writing for all sorts of reasons, or if you just don’t see the point of it, you’ve got an overabundance of Water.

 You can balance Water by making simple changes, one at a time:

  • Develop a daily routine that includes morning hygiene and nasal cleansing, energizing movement to start the day, a pleasant evening series of self-care practices, and a regular bedtime but with no more than eight hours of sleep (waking before 6 a.m.),
  • Enjoy dry-powder massage.
  • Reduce foods and surroundings that are heavy, wet, and cold. Eat warm, well-cooked foods like beans and veggies, pungent and astringent foods such as onions, ginger, hot chilies, and turmeric.
  • Keep warm and dry, engage in regular invigorating exercise, and, hey–try something new now and again. Surround yourself with warm, bright colors like red, red, and red.

Specifically for your writing:

  • Make writing a habit by writing daily. You know how much you love habitual behavior.
  • Write between the hours of 6 and 10 a.m. or 6 and 10 p.m.
  • Practice a few invigorating sun salutations to begin your writing session.
  • Have a cup of warm green or black tea or vegetable juice.

Motivating phrase: Write. Every day.

These suggestions barely skim the surface of the honorable science of Ayurveda, but that’s enough to get you started on the path to greater productivity in your writing life.

You may find that incorporating these small changes makes a positive difference in other aspects of your life as well. Share in the comments about which ideas you implement and what works best for you.

Meanwhile … go write something.

Deborah-Zenha Adams is an award-winning author of novels, short fiction, CNF, and poetry, and served as executive editor of Oconee Spirit Press for ten years. When not writing, sauntering, or practicing yoga, she partners with yoga studios throughout the southern United States to conduct her signature workshop, Write Your Yoga Story (even if you aren’t a writer). Visit Deborah at her website to learn more.

Featured Photo by Juan chavez on Unsplash

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