The Bookish Fox

A Major Writing Lesson from the Ballet

I am currently on a ballet kick. Okay, I have been on one my whole life. I first fell in love when I was a toddler and saw the older girls in their pale pink ballet slippers. I remember staring at them in awe. I was infatuated with the way their graceful movements were reflected endlessly in the mirrors and the sound of the  tap of their pointe shoes on the hardwood floor. I was a goner.

I watched The Nutcracker endlessly, read Angelina Ballerina like it was my job, and would often get yelled at by  my ballet instructors for trying to dance on my toes without pointe shoes. Basically, I was a ballet addict.

There was just one tiny problem: I liked the idea of ballet more than I enjoyed actually doing it. Part of it was due to a lack of talent, but another part of it was that I was unwilling to do the work to help me achieve Misty Copeland heights. When the routine got too hard, I would hide in the studio bathroom and make up little stories to myself to keep myself entertained while I avoided the ballet barre.

Maybe that should have been first clue that I was meant more to be a writer than a prima ballerina. 

I think so many people can be like this as writers. People are more in love with the idea of being a writer than writing. People imagine themselves writing in little cafes in Paris with berets on their heads (my beret is always red), but their thoughts wander more to the croissants than characters. It is so easy to romanticize the life of a writer and forget about all the hours spent writing and revising.

As much as I loved watching Swan Lake with my husband last week, I knew I was never destined to wear a tutu made of feathers. Why? Because I wasn’t willing to make the sacrifices to become a ballerina. I didn’t want to worry about my diet, work out for over twelve hours a day, tour the world, or wreck my feet by trying to squeeze them into those lovely ribboned shoes. As effortless as those ballerinas make dancing look, it is their lives. They have to practice hours a day and pretty much eat and breathe dance.

Writing is similar. While you won’t have to destroy your feet for it, you have to be willing to make the time and sacrifices; you have to make it a priority. There will be times you have to skip that party to finish a chapter. You might have to wake up two hours early every day to work on your novel. Just like a dancer has to make dancing an integral part of her life, you have to make writing a crucial part of yours if you want to be a writer. 

Basically, in order to be a writer you have to write. Not think about writing. And the only way to do that is to make writing a habit. Just as you feel weird if you don’t brush your teeth, you should feel strange if you don’t write every day.

So develop those habits, and we will all stare at you in awe. The more consistently you write, the closer you are to becoming the writing equivalent of Mikhail Baryshnikov. After we experience your art, we will give you a standing ovation.

Need help developing a writing habit? I am here to help! After spending a month with me, you will do the writing equivalent of spinning around 38 times consecutively (a la the Black Swan, but not the Natalie Portman kind). Spots are limited, so leap over here. 

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