Beating Writer’s Block: Dance (Like No One’s Watching)

Dance (Like No One's Watching)

In a fun combination of music and exercise, an interesting way to get yourself thinking freely and creatively is to dance. It helps if you’re less self-conscious about it, so here are some simple instructions for this task: pick an upbeat song, turn it up loud, and dance like no one’s watching. This is easy to do if you’re writing in a downstairs room, at the back of a house, where you can’t be seen or heard dancing.

The general aim is to let loose. Move as the music makes you. One of my favourite songs to dance to in this way is Time Warp from The Rocky Horror Picture Show; with built-in theatricality, dance-steps in the lyrics, a good sense of humour and an upbeat tempo, it makes for an interesting one to keep up with, and allows for a lot of fun.

If you have a willing friend or partner to join you in your dancing, find a song that’s suited to what you’re writing and dance along to it. It could mean doing a slow dance, or attempting to mirror each other’s dance moves to a fast song, or rocking out in the living room, heading banging until your hair is in a mess.

Taking it up a notch, though much more difficult to attempt casually, is a silent disco. The concept, if you’re not familiar with it, is for a group of people – often strangers, if it’s a flash mob – to meet up in a predetermined location, put on headphones at the same time, and dance to whatever song they’re listening to. Everyone listens to their own music, and dances however they feel appropriate for their song choices. It’s easier to dance freely when other people are willing to do the same, and no one can judge how you dance to a particular song because they won’t hear it.

When you’ve finished dancing – possibly because you feel a creative buzz, you’re tired, or you were interrupted – get back to the writing. Action timeYou can choose to attempt to get back to your work in progress, or you can attempt some simple writing exercises based on your dancing.

One option is to put your character in your shoes. Can he or she dance? Do they enjoy it? How did they find the experience of suddenly dancing without anyone else around to watch them? Did they feel uncomfortable in their own skin, or did they settle into it easily?

Alternatively, you can write a scene about a dance – maybe even a silent disco, with someone listening to the songs you danced to – to help you focus on what you’re working on. If you’re not writing prose, try writing a poem about a dancer, or about your own experience of dancing, and see what you’re left with after capturing the experience of the music, the motions, and feelings that rose from it, how the body or bodies felt. In short, you should write about an experience of dancing, light-spirited or under pressure, as a means to get some words on the page and get your mind focused after some exercise.

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About Paul Carroll

Paul Carroll is a writer, born, raised and still living in Dublin. By day he's a student and bookseller, by night he writes fiction and uses social media.
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