Thursday, November 11, 2010

Put yo' stamp on that bootyshake

Everything I learned about writing, I learned from my hip hop teacher.

No!  Really!  It's true.  He's a wise guy and man, he can get down.  Want proof?  Just look here.  He's the, um, wise looking guy in the front. :)

Anyway, every Wednesday, I go to his "groovin'" class.  Really, that's what it's called.  It's what is considered a "non-choreo" class because we don't run through a bunch of 8 counts and then put it all together at the end.  Pretty much in this class, we just bust a move...and listen to the instructor's inspirational and often hilarious speeches about art and dance and creativity.  It's my Wednesday wind down.

It's amazing how much certain ideas apply across so many of the arts.  Try a few of these on for size:

  • Hip Hop: "You can't memorize my steps and then look all fine their doin' it.  You gotta put your own stamp on it.  Like, show your style through the move.  Show your personality!"
  • Writing: Don't just stick to the 3 act formula hard and fast. Change it up to show your story.  Make it fit what you want.  Otherwise, you're gonna look like a white girl dancing hip hop.  (ie: me)
  • Hip Hop: "You gotta feel this.  Feel the music.  Let it flow through you!  Close your eyes! Hell, come drunk to class if you need to to let loose of your inhibitions!  If you don't feel it, you're gonna look like an idiot."
  • Writing: Remember to feel your writing.  Remember to love it. Remember why you started writing in the first place, not because you want to be rich and famous (I hope...cause the likelihood of that, well...), but because you were driven to do so.  Feel the drive.  Carry on.
  • Hip Hop: "Listen.  I'ma show you this video 'cause I don't think you all see it too much here in Vancouver.  Y'all gotta know what you're trying to do.  I want you to know where all this stuff comes from.  I mean, for some people, this shit is all they have.  They're like...dancin' to stay alive.  Know what I mean?  You gotta watch the greats.  Watch these guys that live for their dancing and then go home and practice.  Practice what they're doing till you think you look as cool as them."
  • Writing: You don't write in a vacuum.  READ!  Read other people's work.  Read in your genre, read in other genres, read the classics.  And then practice your writing.  Look at it (like you would your dancing in a mirror) and then write it again.  Write it again until it's perfect and can sit up there against the other stuff you've read.

I think it's so important to look into other creative genres to see how they get by.  How do they keep their creativity flowing?  How do they continue to improve.  How do they deal with rejection and bad criticism?  There's a book by dancer Twila Tharp all about the creative process.  I've read snippets of my friend's copy, but am looking forward to getting my own because it's sheer brilliance.

Do any of you do other arts?  What have you learned? Do tell!


  1. O.M.G. I want that book NOW! I definitely need to learn to hone my focus and discipline. Even if it doesn't help with my writing, the whole premise just sounds least, Amazon makes it sound so :-)

    I'm living in a bit of a science bubble these days, and while I have to be, it kinda sucks because I know that it's 100% affecting my creative writing. Actually, I just had that revelation! Sure, I write stuff every day for my thesis, but it's so incredibly painful, and I'm so drained at the end of the day that I feel like a zombie and my book writing becomes blah. It's amazing how little experimental cooking with friends, or taking a few pics for christmas cards is rejuvenating! After those activities, I've been my most productive book wise in the past few weeks. Hmmm...! I need to exercise that creative side of my brain again, before it's too late!

  2. Yes yes isn't it a great book?? I just died when my friend showed it to me. :) It's on my christmas list! :)

    I think you added a whole new aspect to what I said above. Not only does doing another art shed light on the creative process, it can also just get the creative juices flowing. Like, if I'm not feeling the writing, sometimes I'll just paint or dance and then that opens up my brain to start thinking about the book again. :)

    However, sometimes there are great parallels between science and creativity too. :) My critter Jessica writes a lot about this in her blog:

  3. You don't write in a vacuum. READ!

    LOL that's so funny. I think a lot of people like to read while they write--creative juices and all of that. But some people absolutely HATE reading while they're writing, because no matter what you can't turn off what influences you. Great author Toni Morrison never reads when she's working on her manuscript (said so on Oprah).

    But then there's other people who'll read anyway. I don't really have a choice since I'm in school haha but I think the key is to make sure you're not trying to imitate what you're reading :) 'cause you can only be you! You can only write like you, you can only dance like you :D

    Sucks, but is true.


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