|In junior high, I didn't hate being |
on the dance team, but I didn't love it.
I did love creative writing.
But if you love dancing, or you are passionate about writing, then "like no one's watching" just lets you off the hook. "It's okay to be mediocre," says the speshul snowflake. "I don't need to improve because I'm writing for meeee."
If you really want to excel-- not entertain yourself, but actually work toward a professional goal-- you practice like crazy. You learn the steps, and then you go over them a gazillion times, and it's exhausting. You're tired of this chapter. Your characters won't cooperate. You know how to spin, you're sick of this song, why the hell did we let Sunshine pick a Britney Spears song...
wait. That was a college dance team flashback.
(And sadly a true story. The irony of making mistakes to "Oops I Did It Again" was not lost on me.)
The problem with dancing "like no one is watching" is that no one ever makes you perform "full out." In dance terms, that means you put everything you have into the performance. You hit every beat, extend your arms, jump as high as you can-- you put the finishing touches on that make it a show. Nobody wants to watch this:
Limp, bloodless, boring work. They know what they're doing-- but who cares? Those girls are "marking" it (a dance term for "going through the motions"). And they know it, from the title of the video. They're dancing like no one is watching. And no one is.
(Did you watch the whole thing? Me neither.)
As writers, we can't videotape ourselves to find missteps. We have to find the places we "marked" it and mark it again-- in red pen. People may clap politely at our effort, but no one's going to cheer unless our work is sharp and clean and every second has energy.
I'm pretty content with dancing in my living room. It's best if my singing is limited to the bathroom mirror. But when it comes to writing, screw that "nobody's watching" business.
Go full out.