This weekend my daughter had a photo shoot with her dance company. To participate she needed to wear a hair bun, pink tights, her white leotard, and clean slippers. The first three were easy. My daughter is a skilled bun-maker. Her leotard is brand new and her pink tights are still in good condition. But those slippers! She’s worn them to dance class for six hours every week since December and they look terrible! The toes are scuffed and the soles are worn and dingy beyond belief! Luckily I realized this in time to rush out and purchase a new pair before the special event.
But those slippers got me thinking. Writing stories is kind of like putting on ballet slippers. We slip into the process joyfully, then dance for hours, weeks, or even years revising and refining our writing. But if we are not careful as we dance, our stories, instead of soaring as we want them to, can start to grow dingy. For me this happens, when I get so engrossed in the dance of writing a particular story that I forget to step out of the slippers so that both story and writer can be refreshed.
Sometimes I ultimately decide that, like old dingy slippers, the particular story I’m working on is overworked and scuffed beyond repair. More often, however, I find that giving the slippers a rest is just what the story (and writer) need. Indeed, I have found that when I don’t give my writing toes time rest and to wiggle and perhaps even test out different slippers, i.e. a variety of projects, the growth and quality of my writing suffers.
So don’t be afraid to try some new slippers. But don’t toss those old slippers away either! You’ve danced too long in them to do that! Just give those stories a little rest so that when you do again slip into them, you will know just what they need to soar to perfection. Happy dancing all!