7 Ways To Write Gracefully

December 1, 2008 by  
Filed under Writing Space

Grace: the grace of a ballerina: elegance, poise, gracefulness, finesse; suppleness, agility, nimbleness, light-footedness

I turned to the thesaurus for an entry point to writing about grace.  Then turned to YouTube (of all unlikely places!) for further inspiration: watching ballerinas dance.

As I watched the video I thought about ways you can apply the same lessons and techniques to your writing:

Tread lightly: If you’re writing for other people, think about managing your state before you start to write.  Your words will feel lighter if you pen them from a positive frame of mind.  Smile to yourself.  Hear the music in your head.  Put your baggage to one side. (If you really must you can always pick it up again later.)

Take the smallest number of steps you can: Think of your writing as a dance you’re making from one side of the stage to another, or from the start of a piece of music to its natural end.  Your aim is to get there as lightly, as fluidly as you can, with the smallest number of steps you can manage.  That means getting rid of extra words and superfluous parts of your story.  Make every step count.

Focus on one spot: As the ballerina spins she focuses on one spot in front of her.  Try focusing on one spot as you write.  That might be a focus on one person who really needs to hear your words, or a focus on your positive purpose or intention.  It’ll help your words to flow.

Tune into the rhythm: Allow yourself to hear the rhythms of the world about you, of your body, of your breath.  Feel the rhythm of your words as they dance across the page.  Edit with a musician’s ear.

Start with your feet on the ground: It’s a long time since I’ve done any ballet, but when I think of the starting point it’s with two feet firmly on the ground.  Strong, graceful writing comes from a similar place.  The strength comes from the connection back to who you are: your sense of self, your values, your sense of place, the ground that’s firmly beneath your feet.

Spin, jump and twhirl: Experiment with your words.  Let them dance and play.  Enjoy the connections and associations that tumble out when you play a litle, dance a little, with the words on your page.  Don’t be afraid to jump!

Smile: Smile when you write.  It’s the simplest, most effective way I know to soften your writing, to allow you to tap into your mood, your rhythm, your reader.  To make a connection with the one person who most needs to read what you’re going to say.  To hold your head straight as you dance, jump, spin and twhirl, enchanting us with the patterns and rhythms of your words.

What other writing lessons could you draw from the graceful dance of a ballerina?


5 Responses to “7 Ways To Write Gracefully”
  1. “Spin Jump Twirl”. The way you write is simply musical, Joanna.

  2. Joanna Young says:

    Thank you Angela, very much.

    The connection between writing & music is interesting to me… I’ll get round to exploring it properly one day!

  3. karen says:

    Joanna, Angela is so right. Your writing is always wonderful, and always motivates me to write. However, with your words here you have taken one of those gracious leaps of your own, lifting us and carrying us up up up with your inspiration…

    Two big things for me in your list. Firstly, getting rid of extra words and superfluous parts of the story. I need constant reminder of that, as I know I overexplain both when speaking and when writing!

    Secondly, smile. I’ve never thought about that before. I’m smiling as I write this, and now will be conscious of my expression as I strong those words together.

    Thank you. I truly treasure your contribution.

  4. Joanna Young says:

    Hi Karen, smiling makes such a big difference. If I’m writing to connect with others I make sure I’m smiling first. If I’m not in the mood to smile, I don’t write. You’d be able to tell… and you wouldn’t like it!

    Thanks for your feedback, much appreciated.