Tuesday, May 17, 2022

What's Your Creative Cross-Training Plan?

creative cross-training graphic showing a runner, weight lifter, meditator on the left, and on the right, artists and writers (and a translation graphic) showing different kinds of creative pursuits, including a scrabble-type line up of wooden letters spelling out "poetry"

A recent experiment with a week off of my regular writing projects to just play with some poetry has me thinking about cross-training, and how the benefits folks say cross-training has for athletes might also be there for those of us who illustrate, translate, and write works for kids and teens.

Cross-Training in the world of athletics is switching up your workouts to include different sports - Like, if your main sport is running, adding a yoga class, and strength training. Or if your main sport is basketball, adding meditation, and swimming. An article in Women's Health about the benefits of cross-training cited one study that showed athletes who specialized in only one sport were 85% more likely to get injured than those who did multiple sports. 

Cross-Training is also helpful in avoiding being bored by doing the same thing all the time. Personal trainer Heidi Powell, quoted in that same Women's Health article, adds more benefits: "Cross-training will help you increase strength, power, speed, endurance, agility, and balance, all of which translates across all sports and your everyday life."

So how might the practice of cross-training benefit our creative lives?

Physical injury could equate to writer's block.

And being bored might equate to feeling creatively burned out.

Strength and power might equate to our voice in the work and our confidence to do the work.

Speed and endurance might equate to our stamina to do the work well and on time.

Agility and balance might equate to our craft – having the words, or the images, at our fingertips when we need them.

So if creative cross-training can help us avoid writer's block and feelings of being burned out; give us confidence in our creative voice and ability to do our work; empower us with the knowledge that we can do the work well and on time; and help us keep our skills ready to go when we need them, why wouldn't we all creatively cross-train, all the time?

Think about your creative routines. Can you add some creative cross-training workouts? 

For example, if you usually illustrate, maybe try writing. Or limiting (or expanding) your color palette. If you usually translate, maybe try illustrating. 

If you usually write novels, maybe try a picture book. Or poetry.

Maybe introducing some creative cross-training will get you to a new level of creative fitness, that, as Heidi said above, could translate across all your creative pursuits "and your everyday life."

That sounds like a worthy goal!

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

1 comment:

Avery Fischer Udagawa said...

I am a translator who normally types words into a laptop, but I just enjoyed a playful evening of brushing images and words on a postcard-sized rectangle, in this SCBWI Japan etegami workshop with Debbie Davidson.


It was wonderful how it allowed me to slow down and create with fewer demands and expectations of myself--and more thoughts of others (fellow participants, potential recipients of the etegami in the mail). So refreshing as well as oddly strengthening!