For some reason I tuned in tonight for the grand finale of Dancing with the Stars. What an inspiring show it turned out to be! After 12 weeks of routines, the last three couples still standing were strutting their stuff on stage. I was amazed by how accomplished the amateur dancers were — and how far they had come based on some of the snippets of previous weeks. Taking total non-hoofers and turning them into polished performers is no easy feat — and my hat’s off to the pros who trained them.
Dance and writing have a lot in common and watching this show made me think of five things we need to keep in mind as writers:
Be bold: One of the finalists, Kirstie Alley, isn’t exactly a spring chicken and she’s no Twiggy; over the last 12 weeks, she lost 30 pounds and she’s still zaftig. But she never let her size stop her: she left everything she had on the dance floor.
When you take a flyer, get up and keep going: Kirstie took her share of tumbles in rehearsal and even on stage, but she just hauled herself up off the floor and kept on dancing. Everyone — from the judges to viewers — admired her can-do attitude and her bounce-backability.
Find someone who believes in you: Hines Ward, the non-dancer who won the top prize, was fantastic: suave and stylish. He’s an NFL player. As an athlete, he’s in awesome shape; still, he’s no twinkle toes. He’d never danced before, but his partner Kim “believed in me more than I believed in myself,” Hines said — and that made all the difference.
Put in the time: Over the past three months, the three dance teams logged tons of time on the dance floor. Kirstie said she and her partner danced every day for five hours. You could see how committed everyone was to doing their best — not just to win, but because their dance instructors were giving so much. When you give a lot, the returns can be astonishing. And how you practice is how you play.
Stay hungry: Everyone was excited, everyone was edgy, everyone wanted to bring down the house. That kind of energy is infectious — and transformative. When Hines Ward won, he had a smile a mile wide. What a thrill! And hey, if an NFL player who’s never danced can take home a trophy, anything is possible. So, dance on — and write on!