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“When I’m stuck, my breath becomes shallow. My shoulders and back stiffen. I squint and try to force my brain to produce the correct words. My brain refuses, and I become frustrated. I reach for distractions—my phone, the hunger I don’t feel but insist upon. I make elaborate sandwiches. One distraction leads to another, and before I know it, the day has gotten away from me. This makes me angry. With anger comes more tension, putting the next day’s work at risk. I know this pattern, but knowing it doesn’t always stop me from slipping into it. Instead of becoming ridged; instead of procrastination; I dance. I go through phases where there is one go-to song and I play it on repeat. Right now it’s Tony Allen’s ‘Crazy Afrobeat.’ I kick off my slippers, close my eyes, and start to sway. I get lost in the rhythm of the drums. I connect to the rhythms in my own body. Sometimes I dance until I lose my breath. There is no such thing as the correct words. Flow does not arrive by force. Dancing loosens and opens me up. When I sit back down at my desk, I’m ready to play.”
—Nadia Owusu, author of Aftershocks (Simon & Schuster, 2021)