Cross Training

A lot of people ask me for advice on writing. That’s not completely true, but it sounds badass. And some people do. I’ve posted recently about some of the exercises I do. Now, I am going to tell you the ultimate secret to my method. Cross training.

Remember when all the shoe companies came out with ‘cross trainers’. They looked kind of like a running shoe, a hiking boot, and a tennis shoe had spent a turbulent and shameful night in a bedbug-ridden motel with six bottles of Boones Farm wine and an eight ball. The idea was that you could run, hike, climb a mountain, bicycle, fight a lion, insult a pageant mom, do wind sprints, fly, seduce a hippo, and hang-glide without changing shoes. Or something to that effect.

Well, that’s basically the approach I take to writing now, and I do believe it has sharpened my game up a bit.

For a long time, I wrote lyrics and newspaper articles almost exclusively. Then I spent a decade writing short stories. Now, I have a workout designed to add definition to my metaphors and take inches off my overly verbose stories (or something, this piece won’t be overly verbose – I am overly tired).

So, what do I mean? (I’m asking myself…I mentioned the fatigue, yeah?) Oh, right…I write all kinds of different shit. To put it as eloquently as possible.

I do lots of weird freelance writing, but that is only a piece of this simplistic attempt at a post…I mean puzzle. To hone my fiction chops until I shoot deadly word daggers, I like to mix it up. Regardless of what I am currently working on as my primary project, I practice different forms.

I like to write short shorts a lot. I write music. I write poetry sometimes and then burn it. I write pages of dialogue. I write little bits of description. I fight a lion and a pageant mom simultaneously. I try to write an entire story on Twitter. I write a piece and then try to write it again from memory and see how close I get (the one from memory is pretty much always tighter). I write novels, even.

I’m not trying to tell you how to live your life. If I was, you’d have a checkbook and my address in your hand right now and there would be less ice cream in your freezer. This is merely how I do it. And I think it works. I did the same thing in the writing workshops I taught, and it worked there just as well.

So, next time you are pounding away at your novel, stop and write an essay. Seriously, when was the last time you wrote an essay? Write a sonnet. Write a play. Do something that you don’t normally do because, in addition to making you look like a douche, those cross trainer shoes make ordinary people into triathletes. Or, maybe it’s not the shoes…you get the idea. Don’t buy the shoes. They’re ugly.

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JD Mader is a Contributing Author for Indies Unlimited and author of the novels ‘Joe Cafe’ and ‘The Biker’ – co-author of the mighty ‘Bad Book’ – and author of the short story collection ‘Please, no eyes.’  (available here). For more information, please see the IU Bio page and his blog:

Author: JD Mader

JD Mader is an award winning short story writer and novelist. 'Joe Café' and 'The Biker' are out now, as well as 'Please, no eyes'. and the collaborative 'Bad Book'. Mader has been writing for half his life and has no plans on stopping any time soon. Learn more about JD Mader at his blog and his Amazon author page.

25 thoughts on “Cross Training”

  1. Great post! That's why I do the flash fiction challenges on here. Going from the open canvas of an epic fantasy, being given 250 words to play with is pretty jarring. I'm starting a couple side projects(I'm not sure where the time comes from, for them though) just to keep myself doing different things to exercise my meager writing skills.

  2. The best way to fight a lion and a pageant mom simultaneously and come out alive is to throw the pageant mom at the lion and run like hell. Otherwise, if one doesn't eat you the other one will.

    Good advice, though. I have done some of that and it does grease the wheels.

  3. Thanks for another great post JD. Although I am a newbie, I also feel that when it comes to writing, as with most things, variety is the spice of life! (cliche added for Chris James).

  4. This is something I do when I find myself approaching a stalemate in my writing. This is where my lions, pageant moms, and I are staring across the O.K. Corral with fingers twitching. But it definitely might be fun to try while not facing immediate death and beneficial.

    Great article, JD, per usual. 🙂

    BC Brown Books ~ Paranormal, Mystery, Romance, Fantasy

    "Because Weird is Good."

  5. You do shoot word-daggers, my friend. Yes, you do.

    And you burn your poetry too? LOL.

    Great suggestions. I am writing short poems between my first book-writing. Might blog them.

      1. Hey JD, sorry, I've read several of your prose pieces and lyrics that could have been poetry. So the poetry agnostic phrase is hooey. That is all.

          1. Oh right…sorry about that. I guess I also shouldn't tell people that JD stands for Joyful Dandy. Okay, I promise. Won't tell ANYONE.

  6. Agreed. I bounce from writing to editing to publishing to marketing, and back to writing on several pieces at once. My best friend asked me how I kept it all straight in my head. My reply: I just do. When I get stuck on one piece, I move onto another. When the muse gets back on track, I pick up the original piece. It's not uncommon for me to have 4-5 things going all at the same time, all while keeping deadlines for my publishing schedule.

  7. I also work on several projects at once so that I stay fresh. I've seen the advice to write short stories for all kinds of reasons, but I'm a novel writer and it's hard for me to write short stories. I prefer to use that energy for more novels.

    I'm a big supporter of the 'figure out what works for you and just keep doing that.

  8. JD – I am a cross trainer too. Everything from technical writing to poetry. Fiction is the greatest stop on the way to being a great writer. 😉

  9. Great post and I wholeheartedly agree in that I too write a wide variety of things. Granted, my poetry is going nowhere, but it breathes new life into the fiction and nonfiction I write. However, I shall have to disagree about the cross-trainers! I love my Merrell's and they do not make me look like a douche! Best shoes ever or else I wouldn't be going on over a decade of buying a new pair every year 😉

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