Somantics: a kinesthetic writing practice

written by Katherine Ferrier

body and word

moving the body to find language

writing to open doorways into moving

inviting new layers of meaning to emerge

from the seamless flow between moving + writing,

making space for each to inspire, illuminate the other

finding the moving and the imaginal self

in the exquisite, humming aliveness

of the present moment

This is an exploration of a hybrid movement/writing practice I call Somantics, (a word I made up combining somatic (of or relating to the body) + semantics (of or relating to meaning, especially meaning in words) which emerged out a desire to first juxtapose, and then collapse, the space between my two primary creative practices of moving and writing, so as to experience the kinesthetic and poetic possibilities of moving while writing, writing while moving.

What you’ll need
  • Something to write with

  • Something to write on. A small, palm sized notebook works well. Index cards or sticky notes are great, as is a traditional notebook, or loose sheets of paper. If you have access to a large room of paper that you can tape to a wall or the floor, that works too. Whatever you use will become part of your material, part of your exploration, so feel free to experiment with different options.

  • Comfortable clothes. Something with a pocket is useful, if you want to tuck your writing objects away while you move.

The Practice

1. Download the audio track for Somantics. (you can click the yellow audio button link, above, to download all audio tracks for this website) to your phone or listening device. Katherine + the audio track will lead you through the score.

2. You will move through 2 cycles in this session, one beginning with writing, and the other with moving. Each cycle lasts for approximately 20 minutes. Specific prompts and spacious guidance are offered in the audio recording. If you want to practice without the audio, two initial prompts are given below, as a jumping off place to begin generating material.

Cycle 1

  • writing: 5 min (describe 5 things you can see, hear, feel or otherwise perceive about your surroundings)

  • moving: 5 min

  • writing + moving: 5 min

  • writing: 5 min

Cycle 2

  • moving: 5 min (begin moving by conducting a body scan, starting at the feet, and moving up to the head)

  • writing: 5 min

  • moving + writing: 5 min

  • moving: 5 min

Cycle 3

  • writing: 5 min


In this exploration, we will be free-writing, an improvised writing practice in which the writer keeps the pen moving and doesn’t stop to edit, plan, or erase. Whatever arises is the material at hand, no matter what. Grammar, spelling, full sentences, syntax, and logic have no bearing here; the priority is to keep the pen moving and make contact with language that would otherwise not find its way into form. We aim to generate, and compose with, words on the page in much the same was as we spontaneously compose with movement or sound.

Play with modulating the speed of both your moving and writing, so you can stay present and available to attend to your material as it emerges. Sometimes I find going too fast can result in a kind of disembodied, disconnected frenzy, and going too slowly can lead to over-thinking, second guessing, premature editing, preciousness, or paralysis. Find that sweet middle ground that keeps you in direct contact with your material as it emerges in a way that feels like a series of doors opening: mysterious, physical, revelatory.

Don’t take anything too seriously. Use a light touch.

Let go of any concepts of there being a right or wrong way to practice.

Embrace any clunkiness as material, and work with it.

Say yes. Follow your curiosity. Intentionally court the unknown. Welcome uncertainty.

Encountering movement material or language/syntax you don’t recognize or quite understand is an indication you’ve entered new terrain.

Trust that something worthwhile is happening, no matter how you feel about it in the moment.

Notice what you notice. Remember that noticing is NOT the same as judging.

Your job is to keep going and partner your emerging material into form.

Prompts for Response/Reports:

What do I notice about my experience when I begin with moving? With writing?

What do I notice about the process of dropping in, with each?

What, if anything, feels challenging? What feels easeful?

How do I track my emerging material as I’m moving? Writing?

How does each mode allow me to follow my curiosity and explore forms as they emerge?

How does each mode tune my attention differently, or similarly?

Do you notice any similarities in the material you wrote and the material you moved? (musicality, tone, phrase lengths, thematic or emotional content? Something else?

What do I notice? What do I like? What am I left with?

Consider the artifacts of the writing you generated. What if anything interests you?

And what, if anything, matters about any of this?