What Writers Can Learn From Dancers

Yes, I’ll admit it. I’ve been on a research spree. This time, it was on dancers — specifically ballerinas. (Don’t ask, you’ll find out later when I come up with some amazing story idea.)

While on this research spree (Okay, so maybe I’m still researching while I write this…), I found myself staring intently at some similarities between these two creative careers: writing and dancing.

Similariy #1 – Flexibility

You know what I’m talking about. Those leaps where they do the splits in midair. The back-bends. The extensions. Dancers have flexibility that other people just don’t have. But, you know what?

They had to work VERY hard to build that flexibility. It didn’t happen overnight, nor were they born with it. Oh, sure, they may have had a talent for it, but that talent had to be exercised with hours in the studio.

Writing is the same way. You have to be flexible. Your WIP will always throw things at you that you weren’t expecting. You have to learn to roll with the punches. Just like a dancer didn’t develop crazy flexibility overnight, neither will you. You have to keep building your flexibility muscle. Keep stepping out beyond your comfort zone. In time, this will become a strength for you.

Similarity #2 – Passion

Have you ever heard a dancer say “I’m doing this for the money”? How about “It sounded like fun”? NO! Why is that? Because dancing is difficult and sometimes painful. The true dancers, the ones that make it far and dance for large audiences, have passion.

Just like in dance, passion keeps a writer going. A true writer HAS TO WRITE. There is no other option for them. They couldn’t stop if they tried. This is passion. Passion drives you. Passion keeps you going. Passion makes you care about what you’re writing and about what others will think about your writing. Which brings us to number 3…

Similarity #3 – Perseverance (AKA Stick-to-it-iveness. Or Persistence.)

You think a dancer got to their position in a ballet or other production with ease? Think again. They worked hard every day of the week. They perfected every step in their audition. They overcame their fear of rejection and danced in front of judges. And some of them still didn’t make that cut.

Sure, as writers we may not have studios or practices or auditions… Or do we?

A writer’s studio is¬†anywhere there’s a paper, pens, or a computer. Any time we sit down to write.

Our practices are¬†everything they learn and write and do habitually every single day. It’s building those muscles in hopes that one day you’ll get your dream.

Our auditions? Yeah, you guessed it. Those dreaded query letters and proposals you send to every literary agent or publisher who will take them. I would even wager that you got rejected. Multiple times.

Never fear! That just means you haven’t hit your prime yet. Their production didn’t need you this time, but that’s not to say they won’t cast you next time. Keep at it! Keep going! Don’t let discouragement and frustration keep you from another audition.

And another.

And another.

Your passion will push you through all of this. If you’re really a writer — if you REALLY HAVE to write — you’ll keep going despite the pain.

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Any other similarities you see? Let me know in the comments!

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