Hunger Mountain - Vermont College Journal of the arts

Hog Trough Dance

by claire on November 21, 2012

Joanne M. Lozar Glenn wants us to dance away our writing curses.

I recently returned from my nephew’s wedding in Columbus Grove, Ohio. There I learned that because both bride and groom are oldest children, they didn’t have to witness the hog trough dance, a local tradition. The tradition dictates that the oldest siblings of the bride and groom must dance in, you guessed it, an empty hog’s trough until it breaks. Why? Rumor has it that this dance dispels any curse hanging over the newly married couple.

As my brother said, “They do things differently there.”

The tradition of the hog trough dance got me thinking. What can we writers do to break a “curse” hanging over our creative process? Some of us suffer from the curse of leaving things unfinished, others the curse of never finding the time to write. What dance can we do to fix things?


If you’re stuck, try storyboarding your piece. Storyboarding is to writing as sketching is to painting, and it’s used in the video and film industry as a way of previsualizing and organizing a story by drawing its parts. Fellow writer Mary Lucas says Moleskine even makes notebooks for this purpose, which she’s using to map her mystery novel. “Storyboarding gives me a big-picture view of my story and gives me a reader’s view of the story arc,” says Mary.

Play with Form

Look for the energy in a lackluster piece by casting it into three different forms—maybe a poem, a fable, a song—or three different viewpoints. See which one you like best, or combine the best of each to make a new piece.

Virtual Writing Partner

Make a pact with another writer to write at a specific time on specific days. My writer friend and I call this our “9:30 club” because at 9:30 we drop what we’re doing to write for the next hour and a half. Not every day affords us this luxury, but it’s made a difference in the “curse” of not getting the writing done, not sending it out, or not polishing it so that it can be sent out.

Virtual Support Group

Start an email accountability group. Mine has nine writers who’ve agreed to email their writing goal to the group each week (our week starts on Monday), report on their progress the following Monday, and set a new goal for the following week. The pages and publications are mounting up.

Reading Partner

Make a standing “open mic” date with another writer. You can do this by phone, reading to each other a new piece you created that week. You can make feedback optional or not or agree that the call is only for listening, as you choose. Author Angela Leone and I did this every Thursday at 3:00 in the afternoon for a couple of years. The pages she wrote turned into Swimming Toward the Light, her debut novel about a Lebanese immigrant family.

Any of these look like the right hog trough dance for you? Leave your suggestions for how to re-energize the writing process in the comments below. Good luck!

Joanne M. Lozar Glenn is an independent writer and editor who specializes in content development in education and healthcare for associations and other businesses. Her poetry and essays have been published in Perceptions,, WordWrights, Under the Gum Tree,, and Peregrine and is forthcoming in Mixitini Matrix.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Urmilla Khanna December 3, 2012 at 4:08 pm

The Virtual Support Group, A Writers Group and reading my pieces aloud to an intereated listner has worked for me.


Leave a Comment

All comments are moderated.
Yours will show up soon, we promise.