Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Importance of Cross Training

No figure skater became an Olympic champion by just skating all the time. In conjunction with the thousands of hours on the ice, there were ballet lessons, weight training, off ice jumps, time spent learning about nutrition, and goal setting. Some skaters even cross train with swimming, running, or Pilates.

What is cross training?

It's when you participate in another activity or sport with the intent of improving your primary sport. And I believe that cross training is just as important for writers as it is for athletes.

As a writer how can you cross train? Why I'm glad you asked.

  • Reading- You've heard this time and time again. Reading makes better writers. The words seep into your brain and while you're having fun in story land, you're learning about characters, plot, and pacing. I encourage you to read widely in different genres for different age groups. But you don't have time to read you say? Check out audiobooks from the library and listen to them in the car. You can purchase audiobooks at your local bookstore or Amazon. Get an Audible subscription. Hearing stories I believe is just as helpful as reading stories.
  • Watch Movies- Whenever I watch a good movie I more often than not leave the theater pumped about writing. A screenwriter wrote that movie you paid $9 to watch and those words came to life before your eyes. It happens to all of us, sometimes we get stuck in the writer's slump. Maybe it's writer's block, lack of motivation, or just thinking that you suck. But if you can watch something that gets you excited about writing (and along the way teaches you about plot--movies are excellent for this) then DO IT.
  • Listen or Play Music- I believe music turns on the creative side of our brain. The benefits of singing out loud are innumerable (except for the person who may have to listen to you if you are not musically inclined). Wipe the dust off those piano keys and tune those guitar strings. Playing just one song a day, just one song, can soothe your mind and hasten the journey to imagination land.
  • Free Write- Grab a pen (preferably in a color that you fancy) and some paper and just write. About anything. It shouldn't be anything premeditated or even about the book that you're writing. Just write about whatever pops into your brain. Not only is it therapeutic and a great warm up before your actually writing session, but sometimes you just might generate a new book idea or circuitously find that answer to the problem you were having with your WIP.
  • Nature Time- Spend some time in front of the ocean, listen to the waves and bury your toes in the sand. Take a hike or a walk in the park and escape from the car exhaust and cell phones. Spending time with nature is great for clearing your mind and tapping into your creative side.
So while I am a big proponent of BIC (Butt In Chair), cross training is important too so that we can all become the writers that we want to be.


  1. I just wanted to comment and vouch for this post. I consider getting lost in the forest (my nature time) to be one of the most inspirational / motivational pastimes.
    If I could add anything to your list, it would be playing video games!! A good game is based on a good story. (even if it involves a plumber rescuing a princess from a dragon turtle)

  2. I agree! Video games and getting lost in forests are excellent forms of cross training. Thanks for stopping by.