What Dancing with the Stars and Copywriting Have In Common: 5 Steps to Dancing with Words

Dancing and CopywritingUpon my return from Kaua`i to Colorado in 2012, I attended the 6th annual “Dancing with Boulder Stars” event. Given my love for dancing, at the end of the evening my immediate response was, “I want to participate in this event in 2013.”

On Oct. 17th, 2013 I had the honor of dancing in the 7th Annual “Dancing with Boulder Stars.” While based on the same concept as the popular TV show, this performance was a fundraiser for the YWCA of Boulder County in Colorado.

Similar to the TV show, 7 “stars” from the local business community are matched with professional instructors and rehearse for 10 weeks.

I’m one of the few people you’ll meet who will admit that I LOVE DISCO. Having been a disc jockey & a disco dance instructor, back in “the good ‘ol disco days,” my first thought was, “I want to perform a disco number at the event.”

However, my instructor’s strength was in Swing so when she suggested we perform a side-by-side Charleston number, I thought “sure, I can do that.” We started rehearsing in July and met each week until the big night in October.

After months of hard work and a case of last minute jitters, I have to admit it was awesome. Imagine my surprise when I heard my name called out as the Judges’ Choice Award winner. Here’s our winning routine (I’m dancing on the right):

So what does this have to do with copywritng?

This experience was a great reminder that anything worth doing is worth the work it takes to get there. It’s no wonder that dancing and writing are two of my passions – it turns out they actually do have a lot in common.

Five “Steps” to Dancing with Words

1. Practice makes perfect. Whether you’re writing or learning the Charleston, the key is practice, practice, practice. You may not get it right the first time, but desire and persistence will get you where you want to go.

There were certainly times when I’d make mistakes and thought, “I’ll never get this step down,” but as you can see in the video – I did!

Practice writing every day. Like dancing, the more you do it, the better you get at it and the more comfortable you become.

“Make interesting mistakes. Make amazing mistakes. Make glorious & fantastic mistakes. Break rules and leave the world more interesting for you’re being here.”Neil Gaiman

2. Focus, focus, focus. The first time on the dance floor you may feel awkward. However, as you pay attention and focus on each step, with repetition you relax and it feels more natural. It’s the same with writing. That’s why I say, just write. Don’t censor yourself. Focus on putting the pen to paper (or your hands on the keyboard) and let the words flow.

3. You have to take risks. I love to dance, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t feel risky to dance in front of a crowd of hundreds, not to mention, a panel of judges! You have to be willing to take risks with your writing too. You’ll never know what works unless you put it out there in the world. Sometimes breaking the rules can make all the difference.

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” – Anais Nin

4. Don’t be afraid to fine-tune. As I was working with my dance instructor, she would add new steps or new props to use in the routine. Sometimes they worked and sometimes they didn’t. She wasn’t afraid to say “that just doesn’t feel right” or “let’s tweak this.” Our goal was to adjust as needed in an effort to create the best performance possible by the time we reached the spotlight.

When you’re writing, don’t be married to every single word. Sometimes deleting a sentence or a paragraph can strengthen the content. So, don’t be afraid to fine-tune and if necessary, “delete your little darlings” as you edit your work.

5. Last but not least, follow your heart. Whether it’s writing or dancing, do what you love. Need I say more?

“My writing, like everything I do, comes profoundly from my heart. I believe that if you follow your heart you will be successful in one way or another. Old-fashioned as that might sound, the philosophy is true.” – Kim Elizabeth

So, what about you? Perhaps you haven’t been in “Dancing with the Stars,” but I’m sure there is something adventurous that you’ve done lately – in your life or in your writing. Drop me a line at debra (at) writedirection (dot) com because I’d love to hear from you.