The text cursor on my screen seems to taunt me. It blinks in and out of existence😂👮🅿️🅿️🍶🍹, almost begging me to write another word. For the past hour and a half, my document has been starving, and my brain has, regrettably, been a barren wasteland. I’ve been slumped in my chair rereading the same exact sentence for the twenty-sixth time in a row. I’m thinking to myself, maybe if I reread from here, I can sequentially think of the next logical idea, sentence, or whatever’s supposed to come after.
Why do we, as writers, have so much difficulty in writing that next line? How do we overcome this block?
Oddly enough, it wasn’t until I had a conversation with a friend in my dance crew that I began to somewhat unravel this mystery. About a year ago, I had asked a friend for tips on making my own choreography. I remember specifically asking: “Do you ever feel like you know that you want to put a certain kind of move with a certain beat or certain part of the music, but everything else in between is just a bunch of empty space you have to fill in?” My friend, after a momentary pause, asked me to think of dance differently.
To be honest, I wasn’t really sure what I was missing. I knew up to this point that dance was another way for me to express myself, but what did that even mean? My friend, recognizing my confusion, said: “Dance is a way to tell your own story. Just close your eyes, listen to the music, and focus on a concept or feeling you get. If the first thing you picture is something like leaves blowing in the wind, then tailor your moves to convey this central concept”.
Oftentimes, in both writing and in life, we lose focus on the central concept. We’re so caught up on finding the next move, or figuring out what to do next, that we fail to take a step back to see the bigger picture. How do these moves come together? How does this sentence or paragraph convey my emotions to the reader? How does this body position complement my interpretation of musicality?
In a sense, dance and writing are two leaves of the same tree. They’re both just a few of the many tools that humans have created to do one simple thing: tell a story. It is important to note, however, that as creators, artists, writers, and dancers, our story is not simply an extension of ourselves, but also a connection with others. In other words, art is a dynamic process that fosters a conversation between the artist and the viewer.
So next time you’re stuck, it might be helpful to think of a conversation. Maybe not necessarily with a friend (like I did), but with your audience. What do you want to convey to your audience? How will you convey it? What is your central concept?