It may be odd for some to think that performance is like writing, but for me there are a multitude of similarities in the two pursuits. Here are 5 ways in which performing is similar to writing:
It is inconceivable to me that anyone might go into a performance feeling unprepared (although I know that it does happen). The stress and pressure of a live performance, coupled with the expectations of my audience, and the expectations I hold for myself are quite enough by themselves. I always ensure that I know my music very well, and that I have rehearsed it many times over. When I was young, and taking singing lessons, my voice teacher told me that I should not go on stage unless I was so prepared, that I could sing my music while playing tic-tac-toe. (She even made me practice my pieces while playing against her!) The same is absolutely true of writing. Preparation in writing can include anything – brainstorming, practice drafts, editing, etc… For the most part, the audience should see the finished product, and not all the work that goes into it.
An important aspect of performance is presentation. You don’t just wear any old thing to a performance perform. I actually have a closet full of performance dresses! When I have a recital, the way I dress is as much a part of the performance as the music itself! This is also true for writing, and it manifests itself in several ways; editing, formatting, and excellent cover art. These are as important as the content of your writing, and yet these are the areas that so many writers skimp on!
Understanding a performance from as many perspectives as possible is integral to an excellent concert experience. When I perform I can’t just think about what I’m doing. I also need to take into consideration what my accompanist is doing, how the balance of sound is for the audience, what the stage hands need to do to ensure everything runs smoothly. This is all so that the main focus of the audience can be on the music itself. Writers need to be just as assiduous in their own craft. As a writer, I try and consider the various perspectives of the team I’m working with, from the editor, to the cover artist. Most importantly, I also try and consider the perspective of my readers; seeking always to clarify and focus my writing, so that my story is the best it can be.
Both performance and writing involves a very high degree of vulnerability. This is a difficult concept because true vulnerability is extremely intimate, and completely subjective. Exposing my vulnerabilities in both my performances and my writing has taken a very long time for me to practice, and it’s something on which I am still working.By allowing both my performances, and my writing to be as authentic as possible, even if that means exposing emotions and thoughts that I would rather keep to myself, I am inviting both my audience and my readers to share that emotion with me, to empathize, and to find something in what I am saying, or singing that resonates with them. Only by allowing myself to be vulnerable in both performance and writing, can I truly make a connection.
#5: Understanding Applause:
Accolades are wonderful, and there are not a lot of things in the world that feel better than standing on a stage at the end of a wonderful concert, hearing the audience applaud for your performance. The same is true in writing – nothing feels better than getting a good review for your work. Still, my truest joy comes from the process of singing and writing; the acts themselves, and not the final product. It is important for me to remember that while applause and accolades are a wonderful validation of my work, they should never be the impetus behind that work.
Do you agree that performing can inspire writing? Tell me in the comments below!
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