5 Ways to Dance with Your Words

February 2, 2009 by  
Filed under Writing Space

It might  not be obvious at first glance, but writing is a lot like dancing.  I’ve written before about how you can write with the grace of a ballerina.

Here are some more suggestions to help you get your writing feet tapping, then spinning, stamping and swirling.

1. Put on your dancing shoes. Yes, I mean this metaphorically (unless changing footwear works for you!).  What I mean is to do something that signifies, to you, that you’re changing state.  That you’re ready to be graceful, or playful, or outrageously passionate.  Maybe you’ll want different writing shoes for different sorts of writing.  There may be times for ballet shoes… and others when only bright red flamenco shoes will do.

Flamenco Vivo by deVos' on Flickr

Flamenco Vivo by deVos' on Flickr

2. Listen to the beat. This works in two ways.  Listen to the beat of your own words.  Adjust your ear so you’re listening out for patterns, rhythm, repetition, the beat and movement of words.  This is an important thing to watch out for when you’re going back and editing.  You want to cut and move things around so the words flow, and the meaning emerges like a drum beat.

But there’s another beat you’re listening out for: the sound of honesty, the quiet whispers of your soul, the beat of your heart.  You’ll know yourself when your writing comes from that place – it will play a totally different sort of music.

3. Dance like no-one is watching.  You’ll probably know the quote this comes from.  It’s a reminder to listen to our own inner music, to dance – to write, to create, to live – without the need for feedback or approval, without trying to  match the expectations of others.  You might not always want to share the words that come from this exercise, but it’s a liberating and exhilarating thing to do just for you.

4. Lead your partner. If you’re writing to be read then part of your job is to lead your reader through your work.  You need to know where you’re going, where they’re starting from, and how to take them with you, effortlessly and easily so all they need to do is let go and enjoy the ride.

I don’t know if you’re lucky enough to have danced with a really good lead.  I have, and boy does it feel good!  It’s not necessarily about being an expert dancer (or writer) though – more about having confidence, self-belief, plus the desire to create a fabulous experience for the person you’re dancing with.  All of those are attributes that will add magic to your writing too.

5. Smile. I know I’ve said this before, but you can’t dance well without smiling… nor can you avoid smiling with delight after you’ve danced your little heart out.  The same can most definitely said for writing.

So put on your shoes.  Tune into the rhythm of the music.  Smile.

Then let go and dance.

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