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Musings of a Published Author

by Nizana El Rassan Without writers, there would be so much history, detail and information lost. Writers contribute everything from directions and instructions to novels, biographies, journalism, movie scripts and more. The best writers provide entertainment, accurate information or story telling in clear and compelling ways, stir emotions, inspire or motivate. They pique your interest and invite you to read more.

Writing as long been a passion of mine, both in my day job and in my dance journey. Some people like to craft, some like to paint, some like to sculpt- I like to write. I have written newsletters (as well as policies, memos, reports, papers, minutes, proposals, and a published book) for my day job. As a dance author, I have also written newsletters and write regular articles, reviews and interviews for Fanoos Magazine and other publications.

When I am on the beach, I am inspired to write haiku and keep a note pad and pen in my beach bag. When I watch dancers and musicians at haflas, shows, workshops and videos, I am inspired to write for bellydance publications. One can find their inspiration to write from all around you if you look, listen, observe and otherwise activate your senses. Be mindful and in the moment and allow your brain to frame your thoughts so you can put “pen to paper.”

I encourage other writers to keep up their appetite for fiction, non-fiction, poetry and other versions of the written type. Scratch out your thoughts on paper. Some writers like to create an outline and then fill it out; others like to free flow and let it go where it takes you.

I don’t know anyone who writes something once and doesn’t proofread and edit what they wrote before they’re done with it. It’s good to step away from it and come back to it later and look at it with fresh eyes to review spelling, grammar and flow. It’s also good to read it out loud so you hear how it sounds and is coming across as intended. Getting feedback is another option to flesh out what you’re writing.

Of course, there is formal writing such as for arts grant applications, where certain language is expected, especially if you hope to be awarded. Funding applications, calls for proposals and some publications may also have parameters to be aware of, such as wordcount, formatting, timelines and use of action verbs.

There is less formal writing such as dance bios and introductions. Have a couple of bios ready to go so you can use as is or tweak for the occasion. Keep in mind what the event producer asks for. If they ask for a brief bio, that means two or three sentences (not run-on sentences, nor technically correct "2-3" sentences that read as a long paragraph…)

If the event calls for longer bios, determine the length and adjust accordingly. Some events have bios where there is room for more information on the posting or program. If it is going to be read as an introduction, you don’t want to put your audience to sleep making them hear your dance life story and wearing out the announcer’s voice. Write in 3rd person if someone is going to read your introduction, proofread for edits, and for in-person events, print it large and legibly enough for the announcer to be able to read in the dark or without having to look for reading glasses.

Writing can be a task and it can also be a joy. There are courses you can take such as formal English classes and grant application workshops as well as less structured writing opportunities such as creative writing and various types of poetry. Whether you write by hand old school and then transfer to a hard drive, or tap away on your laptop, writing is an important part of dance and of everyday life.

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