A Writer’s Rhythm

by Ant Stone on August 20, 2011

in Features

I have a theory: that great writers, make dismal dancers. And the reason? It’s down to rhythm. Writers store it within, simmering like a hearty ragu, before releasing it in sentences to their obedient readers, whose eyes and minds tap along to the beat.

If you want to be a great travel blogger, it’s less about being a great traveller, and more about learning to channel your rhythm.

Imagine yourself as the most driven, focused, and competent rhythmic gymnast, commanding your pale ribbon through the tense air like a wisp of coloured smoke. One false move, and it’s a tangle of disappointment.

domatrice di nastri - ribbons tamer

Your readers will stumble awkwardly across the narrow beam of your sentence, and tumble helplessly into the blank surrounds, to the bitter echo of confusion.

There’s a balance, which all aspiring writers should learn to master.

Try too much, and risk entangling your readers in a stilted flow. Try too little, and risk releasing your readers’ attention via a flash of limp command.

Throughout our lives, our environment dictates our rhythm. Some writers crave pure silence, to be able to tune into themselves. While others — myself included — prefer to use music to neutralise a wayward rhythm.

For me, the music I choose is often without words, or in a foreign language. If I get to know the song too well, I start to sing along, and my rhythm melts into a thousand rivulets, poisoning my words and ways.

Next time you begin to write, take a moment to tune into your rhythm, and learn to give into it.


Am I talking codswallop? If you think so, go ahead and say so. Or perhaps something I’ve said has struck a chord? Lay it down, we could all learn something from you today.
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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

lara dunston August 21, 2011 at 2:17 am

Terrific advice, Ant. I think that’s why the most rhythmic writing on travel blogs comes from writers who blog and care more about writing than travelling, that is, those who travel to write, rather than those who blog to travel.

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Ant Stone August 21, 2011 at 10:23 am

those who travel to write, rather than those who blog to travel.

So, so true! Thanks for your comment , Lara.

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Thomas | JusGetaway August 24, 2011 at 4:14 pm

Thats for the post but I am not a good writer or dancer. I think its a matter of purpose for many. If writing is the passion but you travel than I think obviously the writing will be better because you are a write first. Many people seem to want to travel and writing is just a way to record it or make money from it. Great to see you back haven’t posted in awhile.

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Renee September 12, 2011 at 5:14 pm

I love your metaphor! In some ways, I see writers as orchestra leaders and our readers as the orchestra. Our words act as the baton that directs the rhythm of the beat to hold their attention and keep them mesmerized. At least, I would hope that would be the outcome.

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Ant Stone September 20, 2011 at 10:09 pm

Nice comment, Renee… I was certainly pinned to my seat, responding to your baton for the entirety of your most-poetic comment :)

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Benjamin September 20, 2011 at 10:55 pm

Ant,

Although I’m not a writer this is solid advice for any moment in your life.

Present with the rhythm of yourself at that moment.

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Ant Stone September 22, 2011 at 10:29 am

Sound advice, Benjamin. I hadn’t looked at it like that, but can really understand your point. Thanks for your comment.

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Denise October 2, 2011 at 11:20 am

I think this is very well put…unfortunately, a lot of bloggers (me included) do an awful lot of writing late at night after their normal day and forget all about elegance :)

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Ant Stone October 20, 2011 at 10:04 am

You’re right, Denise. It does take a certain balance, I see the need to churn out words without fully engaging with the task, but at the same time, there’s something to be said for spending an extra hour making your sentences shine.

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Harvey October 4, 2011 at 11:45 am

A good piece of writing not only has rhythm, it moves with a larger rhythm of its parts. The parts of the piece fit together; it does not sound odd to describe good prose!

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Ant Stone October 20, 2011 at 10:06 am

Well said, Harvey. When I read it, I expanded my thinking to see a piece of good writing as an orchestra, playing harmony. I think this could sound a bit pretentious to most people, but I’m happy with my conclusion :) Thanks for unearthing that thought.

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Mags October 17, 2011 at 1:13 pm

I am a brilliant dancer, thank you very much! Perhaps, that makes me a sh*t writer. Hmm…..

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Ant Stone October 20, 2011 at 10:11 am

On the contrary, I think your brilliant dancing must compliment your writing, Mags? It’s the music to dance by, no?

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Mags October 21, 2011 at 2:03 pm

My thoughts exactly. But I didn’t want to boast. :)

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james smith November 9, 2011 at 12:05 pm

It so nice one.Thanks for sharing.

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Al Duggan November 22, 2011 at 9:25 pm

Great insight about infusing rhythm into writing. I’ve never thought about why, but I always listen to music when I write. I do, however, prefer editing in silence. Perhaps I’ve gotten started on the balance bit without realizing!

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Cherina | Quiet Wanderings December 2, 2011 at 11:39 am

Beautifully articulated. There is such difference between reading the work of someone who has found their voice, or rhythm, and someone who is just hammering out the words. You’ve got me worried though – I’ve been thinking about learning salsa dancing…maybe I should just stick to the writing!

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Chris Fryer April 30, 2012 at 6:03 pm

This is really nice to hear, actually. I’m a writer at heart and now, with a study abroad situation and plans to visit South Korea for the summer, I’ve been aiming to turn that passion into a travel blog. In the beginning I wrote more and then, gradually, felt that photographs would be better for today’s click-and-go audience. It’s nice to know that people still appreciate writing. I will make sure to check the rhythm of my writing. I agree that it is important for prose to have a musical quality to it.

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Kieran Chapman June 27, 2012 at 1:52 pm

What a beautifully written post that is a perfect example of its own point! I totally agree with regards to writing along to music, I’d never considered how much better instrumentals are though, now I think on it Daft Punk got me through most of my university coursework haha. Great post :)

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Diane June 28, 2012 at 1:29 pm

Just discovered your blog. ;-) Very well put!

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The Wonders of Wandering July 31, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Hey Ant, I don’t think I am a great writer, so I try and tell my story through photos. Maybe not fundamentaly great shots, but to me beautiful in the way they can tell a story.Any who… I recently started a blog about my travels through Costa Rica, living as an expat for over a year, Volunteering at a sloth sanctuary this September, and volunteering in Nicaragua in October. The purpose of my blog is to share my story. Mainly with friends and family back home, also because I think I have some pretty cool photos and stories that might be interesting to others. I recently wrote a post for a photo contest called Capture the Colour photo contest at http://www.travelsupermarket.com/c/holidays/capture-the-colour/. Part of the contest is to nominate 5 other blogs, and guess what…TAG your it! Check out my entry on my site http://www.thewondersofwandering.com/capture-the-color-photo-blog-my-adventures-through-color/. Happy Wandering…Daniella

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Jessica August 26, 2012 at 5:09 am

Beautiful metaphor! The idea of a writing rhythm kind of reminds me of the “flow” phenomenon, or “getting into the zone”. There are days when I can find my rhythm easily, and days where I feel like I can’t find the beat.

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Nico November 30, 2012 at 11:08 am

A very well written article about getting into your writing rhythm. Enough said really…

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Gerd January 7, 2013 at 11:44 am

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Jonathan Look, Jr. March 12, 2013 at 12:57 pm

Thanks for this Ant. I am in the middle of a writing project that is starting to kick my butt. This might just get me going again!

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Clayton April 12, 2013 at 12:04 am

I like the orchestra reference, I think more of it like I am writing the music and then directing the orchestra. Writing the music takes forever and doing it at the end of the day makes it tough to make great music. It’s definitely a balance that you have to find and work on..

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Volunteer Card April 16, 2013 at 3:23 pm

We read tons of travel blogs in our office and have found that this is exactly true. I love what the first comment says, ‘travel to write, rather than blog to travel.’ The art of writing about your travel adventures is something that can completely touch a persons life. Great post!

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Victoria Ellen Lee July 13, 2013 at 8:36 am

Beautiful post and so true- to write well you need to get into a certain mind-set. I find classical music played through headphones is the best way!

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Adam Weitzel-Leishman September 1, 2013 at 7:44 pm

Love the metaphor Ant, writing comes with experience, even the most intelligent sometimes struggle to communicate what they have to share!

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