"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
Information & inspiration to hone your craft and increase your cash...Since 2009

Monday, September 23, 2013

6 Lessons Every Writer Can Learn From Dancing With the Stars!

There's a reason that "Dancing With the Stars" makes my heart sing each season. Besides being hugely entertaining, and having gorgeous hunks that serve as the ultimate "eye candy," it imparts timely lessons for today's writer. Whether it's on showman-ship, how to "work a crowd" or how to handle criticism, you'll find useful strategies to enhance your creative career.
Have I ever steered you wrong? :-)
In the interest of sharing a few "teachable moments" here, I offer six savvy lessons you should master for a more rewarding, productive, graceful writing experience moving forward.
1. Learn to dance through the pain.    
As those of us who have been at this career for a while can attest, writing is not always full of rewards, red roses, or warm, fuzzy feelings. It can be tough. It can be taxing. It requires sacrifice. It can be time consuming. Sometimes editors' words can "roast" us like a marshmallow at a campfire. Clients sometimes stiff us. Family members may not fully support us. Keep dancing!
We have no better example of this "grace under pressure" than this season's Valerie Harper, who decided to participate amid her struggles with Cancer. We're "rooting" for you Rhoda!
2. Take criticism in stride.  
I don't always agree with the judges' scores on the show; the dancers don't either. Still, some of their input and suggestions have merit, as they are all veterans in the industry, and have some degree of expertise of value. Sometimes the same holds true of editors. Listen. Learn. Apply what you can.  And keep dancing!
3. Size up the competition.  
And yes, there is competition in writing. How do you stack up against bloggers in your niche? What separates you from other writers? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Is your "voice" unique? Are you well informed? Well connected? These are things to consider. Your potential clients take these factors into consideration. Trust me on this. 
4. Step out of your comfort zone.
Though some of the "stars" are able to shine because they have a background in performing and dancing, many admit they they are like fish out of water. (Particularly the athletes). But the experience on the show often helps them to grow as individuals, and even to grow their fan base.
This year, why not try something different? Pen a poem. Start a blog. Or if you've always written essays and feature articles, why not try your hand at fiction? Stretch your creative muscles. And keep dancing!
5. When you fall, get up.
In a previous season on the show, Marie Osmond fainted.
Some divas have their heels caught in their long skirts, trip and lose their balance.
Others hit the floor due to a mis-step or injury. No matter how they're "floored" they have one thing in common. They all gather their bearings and get back into the swing of things. Writers should too.
Whether it's a rejection letter from an agent, a negative comment from a blog reader, or an unfortunate error you made on an assignment, have the courage to get back on your feet. And keep dancing!

6. Don't forget the fun factor.
If you don't enjoy what you do, you won't be able to go the distance. And you'll cheat your "fans" in the process.

Apply these six tips to "wow" audiences, become a serious contender, and have "the moves like Jagger!"

Agree or disagree? Anything you'd like to add?

Image: Freedigitalphotos.net


  1. I like this comparison! Seems there are writing lessons and principles everywhere, including the dance floor! :)

  2. Thanks, Karen. It's "fans" like you that keep me "dancing!" :-)

  3. Mmm, I need to think about those tips, however I did already improve the 'Showman-ship' on my blog..,

    By looking for way's to present blog titles in a special somewhat 'Magazine Style Splash' to give it a little more 'Swung' :)

    1. That's it, H.P.--"Shake" it up a little. :-) I appreciate your input, as always.

  4. This was a delight to read. It immediately gave me some ideas. I've always been told that I'm light on my feet. Here's hoping that as an author I can be light with my pen. :)

    1. Hey there, "B.F.F." :-)

      Glad to provide some inspiration here. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

  5. Dance through the pain? I don't know about that, as kids we used to Play 'Warmer/Colder',

    By hiding an object, and finding it back with the guidance of saying 'Warm or Cold'.

    As an analogy isn't Pain (Cold) just an indication of being a little less in the right direction?

    1. Jennifer Brown BanksSeptember 26, 2013 at 6:18 AM

      Interesting perspective, thanks H.P.!

  6. Jen, You have no idea how I needed this! Having just experienced the largest mystery writer's convention in the world and seeing the competition - well - let's just say I feel like a "lesser light" more than ever now. Although it was wonderful to see and even speak with (Sue Grafton in the ladies room) some real stars, I wonder if I should even bother. Do you know how many books are out there? LOL Anyway, I'll try to take heart and keep dancing. Thanks for being so much on our side! Hugs.

    1. Jennifer Brown BanksSeptember 26, 2013 at 6:24 AM


      Think of it as a "chorus" where each individual voice adds to the depth, texture, harmony and beauty of sound. Your "voice" is important too, girl. :-) Or think of all the books and authors you no doubt have at home in your personal library; they all have a different style, approach, and appeal. Variety is the spice of life, as they say. :-) Thanks for chiming in here. :-)

    2. Well, okay, then. I'll think of my life in a more "spicy" way. =0)

    3. That's the spirit. "I hope you dance." :-)

  7. Hi, Jen:

    You know I watch this show. :-) I enjoy watching the dancing as well as the dancers' practice sessions, which is akin to editing in the writing world. Yes, watching other people handle criticism does help me learn different ways to maneuver through criticism in my own life.

    Great comparisons. Be well, my friend.

    1. Janette,
      ...Was surprised when I didn't hear from you on this. :-) Yep, I know you're a fan. Thanks for chiming in, dearest.