Dancing with the Stars

Everyone I meet soon finds out that I’m an avid ballroom dancer. Often the conversation turns to the TV show Dancing with the Stars with a question like this: “Did you see the episode when…”

I always answer yes before the sentence gets halfway there. I have never missed an episode. I vote for my favorite dancers. I copy the steps and pretend I’m on the show.

So I was delighted when a good friend (who’s also a ballroom dancer) gave me an early  Christmas gift with a DWTS theme: a copy of Derek Hough’s book Taking the Lead: Lessons from a Life in Motion. (Derek is a regular dancer on the show and a six-time winner.)

Although Derek is only 31, the book is packed with wisdom and experience. I tore through it last weekend and plan to read it again.

If I can claim some tiny trait that I share with Derek, it’s this: I constantly see connections between dance and many other aspects of life…

…including writing. Here’s something from the book that sent chills up my spine – advice from a successful songwriter who said, “When you write new songs, write for the trash can.” Derek paraphrased that advice this way: “Challenge yourself to think of five terrible, awful, oh-my-gosh-this-stinks ideas.”

Amen, brother – amen.

According to Derek, that advice works every time to get his creativity muscles warmed up and working. Every writer should do the same.

(I can’t resist taking a detour into similar advice from hockey superstar Wayne Gretzky: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”)

In other words: Get going.

You, reading this and dreaming of becoming a writer: Get out a piece of paper (or open up a blank document on your computer screen) and start writing. Anything.

(Of course it’s also ok to read something that inspires you, like Derek’s book!)



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