Years ago, if anyone would have told me writing was a lot like dance, I would have given up.
I’ve always been a bad dancer. In middle school, I joined my church’s drill team with all of my friends. It was a team that didn’t require an audition or tryout. All are welcomed in God’s house and on the team. Yet to become the award-winning team we became, our instructor quickly found a role for me that didn’t involve being seen publicly stumbling through choreography. I made the team’s costumes. In college, I was the member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. who only party strolled in the safety of my bedroom or only in the presence of my sisters for laughs. I was born with two left feet.
But something happened the summer of 2019. I discovered bachata. Last year, I went to a few socials and had a ball, left feet and all! Then this past summer, I started taking lessons. Check me out after class with one of my instructors, Helena, with Bachata Vida:
Not all left feet anymore, right? I still have a ways to get there, but I’m determined. And the more classes I take, the more I can see the correlation between dance and writing.
In a 2016 article in The Guardian, Zadie Smith, one of my all-time favorite authors, shares how she’s learned as much from watching dancers as she has from reading. She writes how dance teaches writers lessons in position, attitude, and rhythm and style. It’s such a great article and parlays to her book Swing Time, also released in 2016.
But beyond technique and artistry, as I danced over the summer, I realized the same secrets to becoming a great dancer are true to mastering writing. It’s not all about talent. It’s hard work.
Great writing takes the following:
- Commitment – A promise or firm decision to do something. I made a commitment to bachata when I paid for my dance classes. With writing, I commit to my stories and projects by setting deadlines.
- Discipline – A control gained by enforcing obedience or order. I’m disciplined to show up each week for dance class, even nights I don’t feel like it. Similarly, I set time aside for writing and stick to it even when I don’t feel motivated or “moved” to write.
- Practice – To do or perform often, customarily, or habitually. I practice bachata outside or class throughout the week and study books on writing and read great writers for their styles and techniques. I also try my hand at different writing exercises.
Want to learn more about writing and how to create a writing plan? Register for Purple Inked’s webinar on Saturday, Nov. 14.