The Writer’s Devotional

Amy Peters, Sterling Publishing Co., 2012

“I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself.”
Mikhail Baryshnikov

There’s only one bar that you need to measure up to as a writer and that is the one you set for yourself. Ballet dancer, Mikhail Baryshnikov was born in communist Russia. Although his talent as a dancer was apparent from a young age, the Soviet system of training dancers did not recognize his early genius. Further, because his short stature made it impossible for him to tower over his ballerina partners, he was relegated to secondary roles.

Undeterred, he continued to dance with the famed Bolshoi Ballet, and although not a star, he continued to work to “dance better than myself.” These efforts paid off when in 1974, during a grueling tour with the Bolshoi, he defected from the Soviet Union and became the principal dancer for the American Ballet Theater. Today, he is recognized as one of the greatest ballet dancers of the twentieth century.

Just as Baryshnikov set out to dance for himself, you must write for yourself. Even if your vision is to have a work published, you must first write a work  that’s pleasing to you and that meets the standards you have set for your own writing. Comedian Bill Cosby says, “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” Please yourself first and then others will be pleased too.


Submitted by Barbara Cairns (SSRA Member)

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