April 12, 2013

Cross-Training for Writers - Lorrie Orr

I’m no athlete so my understanding of cross-training is very simple: Do different activities to stimulate different muscles and to keep you from getting bored. The result will be a toned body, able to perform well.

As creative people, writers can use the idea of cross-training to improve and stimulate growth. Here are some examples:

- 1. If you write prose, try writing a poem, or a creative non-fiction piece.

- 2. Take a walk with your camera. Looking through a camera lens is a way to focus in on a subject, to frame it beautifully, and to see it in a new or different way.

- 3. Work in the garden. Weeding, planting, watering, pruning – these activities occupy one area of your brain but leave plenty of room for other thoughts to percolate – thoughts that could turn into stories, dialogues, or scenes.

- 4. Indulge in play therapy. Use play dough to model a character or characters that live in your mind. Let your fingers and hands work, kneading and manipulating the dough. Act out a scene. Who is this character? What is she doing? Why? What does she want and what stands in her way? How will she move forward?

- 5. Take some time to find an imaginary creature in your world. It might be an animal figure in the troweled plaster on the ceiling above your bed, or a face in a flower, or a design that captures your attention. What might this creature be thinking?

- 6 Plan a party – one that you would like to attend. Who would be there? What food would be served? What is the setting?

- 7. Paint or draw even if you think you cannot. Swirl colour onto paper in lines and patterns that please you. Give yourself permission to play.

Cross-training can free ideas that will help you write better. And it can be a lot of fun besides.

by Lorrie Orr 2013


  1. Lorrie, What a wonderful list.

    I must admit that your ideas for cross-training are way more fun than those they suggest at the gym (LOL)!

    And it's true that doing things that a person doesn't normally do stimulates the mind and sets creativity in motion -- I've seen that time and again in my own life.

    So thanks for the timely reminder.

  2. I never thought of switching writing genres as cross-training in writing, and I don't even need to buy a new pair of runners or other expensive equipment.

  3. I like the way you compared creative pursuits to athletics. Very clever. As an artist I do this a lot - paint something that inspires a story or vice-versa.

  4. This is so true, Lorrie. I've noticed that when I try a new genre I'm always surprised at how differently I see things. And maybe if Spring ever arrives I'll try something new - exercise!


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