When I took the inaugural Cruising Writers trip in December 2015 on my very first writing cruise, I hadn’t been clubbing in a gazillion years—give or take a few. But when we had the chance to go dancing one night, several of us cruising writers stepped into the nightclub and took the dance floor, strutting our stuff from midnight to way-past-my-bedtime.
Four truths link that experience on the cruise ship’s dance floor to my experience of writing:
- Expressing yourself is risky. We writers entered the dance floor with varied levels of confidence, or perhaps I should say doubt. Because getting up and dancing in front of a crowd involves risk. What if you lost your mojo? What if you step on someone’s toes? What if you look silly? It might be easier to sit on the perimeter of the club nursing your martini. Likewise, it’s easier not to write than to risk writing a story that reveals a piece of yourself.
- Reward requires risk. But which writers had the best time in the nightclub? The people grinning the biggest got out on the floor and danced with everything they had. We left sweaty but smiling, disheveled but delighted, exhausted but elated. Putting yourself out there on the page may leave you drained, but those scenes are often the most satisfying. Because you gave your story all you could give.
- You need refreshing. We didn’t dance all those hours straight. We took breaks to rest, grab a drink, and chat with each other. After our designated break time ended, or when a particularly great song came on, we got back on the dance floor to go again. I write substantially better if I give myself breaks to refresh. Sometimes, those breaks are when I get my best ideas, because I’ve stepped away from the work but the story is still kicking around in my brain.
- Share the experience. I’d never have gone dancing on the cruise ship except for the company of friends. The fun factor increased exponentially with the support, smiles, and smooth moves of my mates. We shared the dance floor, the excitement, the memories. I don’t go it alone when it comes to writing either. I’ve become a better writer, exponentially so, with the help of other writers. That’s one major reason to take a Cruising Writers trip: The shared experience of learning, brainstorming, writing, and sharing our stories and wisdom that makes our writing journey so much richer.