When Writing Gets Tough, Just Keep Dancing

“I get up. I walk. I fall down. Meanwhile, I keep dancing.”—Daniel Hillel

I discovered this quote in Bird by Bird, a book on writing by Anne Lamott. She mentions she taped it to the wall near her desk to help her deal with jealousy over another writer’s success.

Although perhaps directed toward life in general, the quote easily applies to the ups and downs of writing: self-doubt, rejection, futility, criticism, creative ruts. What writer hasn’t licked these wounds?

Though I first dipped my toes in the fiction pond fifteen years ago (excluding the novels of my youth that withered after chapter one), I only dived in fully the last four. And in these four years I have:

Gotten up.

Walked.

Fallen down.

And kept dancing.

Photo by Paul A. Warder. Check the bottom of the post to see who the dancer is!*

Photo by Paul A. Warder. Check the bottom of the post to see who the dancer is!*

You know the drill. Not everything we start pans out. Agents and publishers won’t flock to our doors. Our books will get lost on Amazon among millions of other books.

But when we fall down, we get back up, because the dancing makes it worth it. That dance of fire and passion when our stories come alive. That dance of satisfaction when we connect the pieces and create a whole. That dance of having other people enjoy our work.

Well, at least that’s my dance, anyway.

What’s yours?

Whether for writing or other life challenges, what keeps you dancing?

*This fabulous photo is of my sister-in-law, Lisa Conlin, professional dancer in both Minneapolis and Sioux Falls. She is the Co-Artistic Director (along with Raena Rasmussen) of LiRa Dance Theater Company, premiering August 4th at the Museum of Visual Materials in Sioux Falls, SD. I wish I could say my dear husband has her skills, but he does not. Which is another thing he and I have in common.

*     *     *

Rubin4Carrie Rubin is the author of Eating Bull and The Seneca Scourge. For full bio, click here.

225 Responses to “When Writing Gets Tough, Just Keep Dancing”

  1. denisfeuerstein

    Have you ever tried to read and dance at the same time? It’s quite complicated, but after you get the drill it makes lots of fun – writing on the other hand combined with dancing is (in my opinion) quite stressfull and dangerous for your surroundings.

    Like

  2. 1WriteWay

    I think for right now I’ll save my dancing for when I start writing again. I’ve been heavily procrastinating. I’m being productive, taking online courses in forensic science and Spanish … yes, lately I’ve been obsessed with learning Spanish. I’ve studied the language off and on since I was in high school and it frustrates me to no end that I never could do better than ask where the bathroom is. It’s all very interesting, but I can’t fool myself. I do suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and I feel envy when my friends get published and I get rejected (which just exacerbates the Syndrome) and so I stop writing. But my “hiatus” won’t last forever, so no worries. Still, I ache to be dancing 😉

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    • Carrie Rubin

      I want to learn Spanish too. I majored in French (and Natural Science) back in college, but though I love the language, Spanish would have been more practical to learn. I keep telling myself I’ll get to it.

      I hear you on the Imposter Syndrome. I think we all experience that from time to time. Here’s hoping you get your mojo back soon!

      Liked by 1 person

      • 1WriteWay

        I tried French but understanding the spoken word was too hard, though it’s a beautiful language. Thanks for the support 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. marymtf

    ‘Self-doubt, rejection, futility, criticism, creative ruts.’ That describes us all, but I’d add feeling like a fake in between publications. The publisher will say she likes my piece and wants it. The next time round, another, or even the same one, will say she likes the piece, but can’t use it.
    Keep writing, keep pushing, keep dancing, Carrie.

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    • Carrie Rubin

      It’s so easy to feel like a fake, isn’t it? I think that happens in a lot of areas of our life. Many people experience the Imposter Syndrome. Luckily, other days, we feel like we’re right on track. 🙂

      Like

  4. Kourtney Heintz

    I let myself have a wallow and give up. For some reason giving up reminds me that this is a choice. My choice. It lets me find the strength to keep going. I rechoose this path on a regular basis. 🙂

    Like

  5. Sharon Bonin-Pratt

    Love this idea, Carrie, dancing for the joy of what we do, not for reward other than the moment of creation and the moment another person enjoys our creation. Who cannot dance then?

    BTW, SIL Lisa is beautiful and so expressive.

    Like

  6. philosophermouseofthehedge

    Yes, but first you noticed her joy. (Dancing on and responding to the next post) So you are not totally over the edge into diagnostics. Although noting emotional mood is part of overall heath evaluation – but you still get a pass. HA HA (No reply necessary – just had to giggle over it a bit)

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    • Carrie Rubin

      It’s interesting because INTJs can actually be quite emotional. Introverts tend to empathize well and feel things deeply. We just don’t like to show it.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Aquileana

    “But when we fall, we get up back … Because… The dancing makes it worth it”… Excellent words… Inspirational post, dear Carrie… Thanks for sharing… Have a great week ahead. Aquileana 🌟

    Like

  8. Christy Birmingham

    For me, it is the support of family and friends for my writing goals that helps me keep “dancing” 🙂 I loved the inspiration I found in your post, Carrie!

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      Thank you! And thank you for sharing it on Twitter. I agree–that kind of support for our writing from others helps keep us dancing!

      Like

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