I've mentioned that I'm taking swing dance lessons; I've mentioned as well that I'm working on a new 1940s WIP. What I didn't mention? I'm doing it at the same time.
Well, almost. Monday nights are swing dance nights, and they're also mad-drafting nights for me. Here's how it works: Husband and I go to lessons at 7. We dance our socks off (currently learning Charleston). He sticks around for the beginner lesson at 8 (they need more leads, so he lends a hand), and I dash off to write for a solid, extremely productive hour before returning for open dancing at 9.
And it's crazy--that hour I get on Monday nights is one of my most productive. Maybe this is because I've worked the jitters out by dancing for an hour beforehand. Maybe it's because I only have an hour, so I use it really well. And maybe, just maybe, it's because I've imbued myself with elements of the era I'm writing about right before sitting down with my laptop. I'm usually wearing vintage or vintage-inspired clothes, I've been dancing in a style close to or taken directly from the era I'm writing about (depending on what style dance I'm working on at the moment), and I've had period music piped into my ears for a solid hour.
I would never say I'm a "Method writer" in the same way some actors are Method actors--I don't have to do these things to get into the mood to write, and I don't feel the need to dig out all my eighteenth-century clothes and a glass of port to draft, for instance, a Revolutionary War-set piece. I don't stay in character or time period (well, some would say I'm a little outdated all the time, but that's another post). But diving into research has always motivated me, and perhaps the most basic of research--tactile experience--can do so all the more. Seeing, tasting, smelling, and, yes, dancing all make me excited to translate what I've experienced onto the page for others to enjoy, too.
Regardless--it's working! Do you ever put yourself, physically in your character's shoes? How about your character's dancing shoes? Ever inspired to try something yourself by a character in a book you enjoyed?
Below--some Happy Feet for you, if you're so inclined!