Monday, October 8, 2012

Finding Your Rhythm


When I was a child, I loved to dance. I’d blare the record player (yes we had record players when I was a kid) and boogie down. By myself. I could never let any another breathing soul witness my madness. But that was kind of the point—dance like no one’s watching. And that’s a lot easier to do when, well, when no one’s watching. ;)

I never took ballet, or tap, or anything like that. I was a tomboy. I’d have rather been outside fishing or riding dirt bikes, so every move I made through dance was in no way influenced by any real guidance. It was just me doing my own thing.

As I grew older, the whole dancing behind doors thing stopped. When I turned 18 and cast off the shackles of high school culture, friends and I started going out to night clubs where everyone was dancing, but by then, I questioned whether I ever really had rhythm at all. Yes, I loved to dance, but was I really dancing? And was it wise to do it in public now that my peers would possibly be critiquing my every move??

Bottom line was, I didn’t have confidence in my rhythm. Heck, I didn’t even know for sure if I had rhythm. Yes, I loved it, and yes I could kind of move to the music, but I wasn’t in the music like those really groovy dancers seemed to be—you know the ones who could just flow like a ribbon on the wind. So what did I do? I hung out on the dance floor sidelines and observed while I swayed, afraid to step foot on the actual dance floor, which looking back, was probably wise. I watched those dancers who could really get down and I knew I didn’t have what they had. Not even close. What I did know, though, is that I wanted it. I wanted rhythm so bad I could taste it. Which led me to ask, are people born with rhythm? Or do they discover it? Maybe a little of both? (sound familiar writers??)

It was the early 90s then, and I was living in a town with a thriving underground dance scene. Music was spun on records with a new sound that was blowing up the dance floors: house and techno beats mixed in with disco and alternative—all thumping the sound waves. I loved that music, but I wanted to be dancing to it. Real dancing. I wanted rhythm.

So what does any logical person do when she wants to achieve something? She studies it, practices it, lives it. I went to the clubs every weekend night and gradually I got better, until I wasn’t just a person trying to move to the music anymore, I was the music. I didn’t have to think about it. By the time I was 22, I could’ve easily auditioned for So You Think You Can Dance and (with a dash of luck) made it on the show (they didn’t have that show back then unfortunately.) Needless to say, I had found my rhythm.

You can see where I’m going with this and how it relates to writing. Whether we’re unpublished, traditionally published, indie … it doesn’t matter. What matters is that there comes a point when you know you’ve found your rhythm. 

Writing is the same. Once I found my writing rhythm, writing became part of who I am as a person. As a child, I loved to write even more than I loved to dance. When I decided twenty-five years later to seriously take my story-telling and writing to the next level, I worried if I had what it takes. Just as I watched those kids with real rhythm from the sidelines of the dance floor, I read fiction that blew my mind and made me wonder if I could ever be as good.

And just like dancing, that true inner rhythm doesn’t come from only wondering. It comes from hours and hours of hands-on practice and determination. We have to know what it takes to get where we want to be. We have to know how to identify what’s good. Then we have to be willing to work for it. Maybe you’re still writing in the sidelines because you haven’t found your writing rhythm, and that’s okay, but know that to become the story and for writing to be part of who you are, you have to lose a little face, sacrifice easier pastimes, and be willing to look failure in the eyes and announce you will not back down. I'm still learning how to do that too. 

There’ll always be great dancers and great writers, but none of them can be you as a dancer or a writer. Here's hoping we all find our rhythm, put ourselves out there and feel proud because of it! Every dancer takes a tumble now and then, just like every writer bears the brunt of rejection or bad reviews. Regardless, once you find that rhythm, no one can ever take it away.

Sorry for the loooong post today. I was just ... yanno, in the rhythm. ;)

How about you? Have you found yours? Or still in the sidelines? Please share ...

41 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I still have no rhythm for dancing. In my day, it was three steps forward, three steps back.
Found my writing groove though. I know my niche and I what I can do with it.

S.P. Bowers said...

I love to dance but don't know if other people call what I do dancing.

I think I've found my writing niche but each story is different, each story has a learning curve. I'll never get bored with writing.

M.J. Fifield said...

I took dance lessons as a kid and hated them. I was so glad when my mom let me quit.

Now I love dancing... just so long as no one's watching. Which is kind of how I feel about writing too. Trying to change that though.

Great post today!

Karen Walker said...

Well, I loved this long post, Pk, because I love both writing and dancing and this is such a wise post on the need to find your rhythm with both. I have and it makes all the difference.
Karen

Carla White said...

Great post, PK. Love how you tied your experience with dancing to writing, and I think this advice holds true to any dream that one wants to follow through on.

PS. Love the look of your blog (haven't visited in a while so maybe it's not new anymore, but it's fun!).

Barbara said...

Wonderful post – I can’t dance, and I can’t write but I do enjoy watching and reading!

Barbara Watson said...

Love this. I met an author over the weekend, and as we were chatting about writing, I told her I was revising my third MS, and that this one felt special. She said, "Two practice novels. That sounds about right." So I, too, feel I've found my rhythm.

Johanna Garth said...

I love to dance and I love to write. If you throw my love for cooking in the mix we could have SUCH a fun party!

Crystal Collier said...

LOL. I can't dance, but I'm an expert in Modern Free Form. =) Writing though, I've definitely got a rhythm, one that's taken since 2nd grade to establish. Fun metaphor, and I really like the newer look of your blog.

Linda Jackson said...

Great post. I'm getting there...with both the writing and dancing.

Stephen Tremp said...

I'm getting my mojo back after a couple months off. But I'm up and running again. Coffee and wine help.

Donna Yates said...

Excellent post. Yes, we do need to find our rhythm. Sure makes a lot of things easier when we do.

Joyce Lansky said...

Anything we do well takes hours of work and practice. As for dancing, I begged my mom to let me take ballet. Then I begged her to let me quit.

http://joycelansky.blogspot.com

Lynda R Young said...

yes!! I totally agree. Writing is a slow process that requires heaps of work. We learn by doing.

Donna Hole said...

I don't think it takes a lot of innate talent to learn ANYTHING. Maybe you be as good as someone with the natural born talent, but even those still have to learn, and practice, and live the craft.

If you really really want something desperately enough, you'll put in the hard work despite the odds.

Have a good week PK.

.......dhole

Norma Beishir said...

I always loved to dance--until a leg injury made it impossible.

As for a writing rhythm, I found mine a long time ago. Trouble is, these days I have trouble maintaining it....

Lexa Cain said...

I was a professional dancer, but I have zero writing rhythm. Or I do, but it's like: plod, shuffle, plod, shuffle. lol
It's great you found yours. Keep it up!

Jeremy Bates said...

I had to Google what the heck a record player was. Did your's have the little dog standing next to it? lol

As for a writing rhythm, when I get my MoJo on, the keyboard cannot be tapped fast enough. Conversely, when the MoJo has gone south, I still force myself to write other things just to get the juices flowing, then pop over to what is important to me at that specific juncture.

alexia said...

Fantastic post! I love dancing, too, so I love that metaphor.

Catherine Stine said...

The dance analogy works. That's cool you were so good at it, and into it! I dance as part of my exercise routine--to rock and hip hop. Yes, after a summer of diversions and challenges, I am getting back to that WIP!

Annalisa Crawford said...

Great analogy. I used to get told off for dancing to our records because we had a dodgy floorboard that made the record player jump. I scratched my mum's favourite album once... she wasn't happy!

Robin said...

Loved this post PK-finding our rhythm as writers isn't easy. Determining we have the courage to dance with the big dogs, ever scarier.

Great post!

"You've got rhythm, you've got words, you've got Knox, who could ask for anything more"

Robin said...

I forgot to mention I really like your blog facelift:)

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Excellent post...and you're so right!

LTM said...

Awesome post, PK! I'm not such a great dancer, but I know what you mean about finding the rhythm and feeling the music. And you're so right about how this relates to writing. The more we do it and do it and do it, the more it does become like music or dancing. It flows~

Hooray for getting your groove on--LOL! :o) <3

fOIS In The City said...

PK, lovely thoughts about the music and the rhythm "Turn the beat around ..." " ... then you know the rhythm carries all the action ..." Hey, I was a born dancer and if I keep up the work on the writing, I will find the right tune. You go girl. Enjoy this one by Vickie Sue Robinson:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44pYL9-XOW0

michelle said...

I L-O-V-E dancing and can spend hours doing so. And I have natural rhythm (heck I'm from Africa, after all...)
With regards to writing, I'm still finding myself... at present I have the jerky rhythm of The Little Train That Could. LOL

Jay Noel said...

Big dancer here. When you say 90s, I think of New Jack Swing. That was fun.

My son is a dancer too. He actually competes. They're doing this great homage to past dance styles (everything from ballet, to jazz, to even NEW JACK SWING).

There's a part in their new routine where MC Hammer's Can't Touch This comes on and the girls stop. My son's in the middle and starts doing the Chinese typewriter dance!

Livia said...

Great post! I haven't found my rhythm in my writing yet. I got long ways to go yet. :(

Roger Lawrence said...

I used to love dancing until one night my then girlfriend said "you dance like Robbie the Robot." I've never been able to do it since.
I suppose R/T/Robot might have been a good dancer but I suspect not.

jamieayres.com said...

I love to dance and I don't care if I make a fool out of myself! I love to write, and hopefully I'm a bit more skilled, lol. It's hard to find that rhythm some days in the midst of a life that can be . . . quite hectic!

E.J. Wesley said...

Great post! If I have a writing rhythm, it's kind of herky-jerky, all over the place. But ultimately, we dance to the music we hear, and I rarely listen to the same song twice in a day. :-)

Seriously though, my takeaway from your words here is: learn to have confidence in self. And you're so correct that it takes doing it to the point of control before the confidence comes. For me, it's the difference in 'telling a story' and 'ME telling a story'. I'm learning more everyday about what I can do as a writer, what feels comfortable and natural for me. And that surely leads to smoother moves.

Shelly said...

I love to dance and write. I dance when I clean the house, turning up my favorite tunes.

I write every morning. I bring a tablet with me to work and write out scenes or dialogues. I even write on my Iphone when I've forgotten my tablet.

And yes, you have to practice, practice, practice in order to get better and to know your voice.

Hugs and chocolate,
Shelly

Leslie S. Rose said...

I kept every pair of my told toe shoes. Love your analogy.

Jessica L. Foster said...

Excellent comparison. Thanks for sharing!

Cally Jackson said...

Love this analogy. I think I've found my ryhthm but definitely still want to keep improving.

Also, just wanted to let you know that I'm holding a blogfest called 'The Year I Turned 18' in the week starting 29 October to celebrate the launch of The Big Smoke. Thought you might be interested in taking part. :-)

Jennifer Ruth Jackson said...

Excellent post but now I have the desire to see you dance. Go for it!

Mama J said...

Great post. I can't dance (at all) so I'll just have to take the writing part with me.

William Kendall said...

Great post, PK!

As a writer, I've got rhythm... but as a dancer? I have two left feet.

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