Fitness experts agree that cross training promotes better physical fitness, and reduces mental burnout and the risk of injury from repetitive strain. Benefits of cross training include:
Enhancing current skills
Developing new skills
Improving overall conditioning level
Those same principles apply to writing, and our craft will only improve if we step out of our comfort zone and try something different.
After writing and releasing a few books, be they in the same genre or the same length, it’s time to branch out and flex those infrequently used muscles.
If you’ve been writing novels (i.e. 40,000 words or more), try your hand at a novella. If you’ve been writing historical romance, give contemporary a whirl.
I’ve written and released five novels, ranging from 70,000 to 90,000 words. My current project is a novella of less than 40,000 words, which has required me to stretch and flex muscles I’ve rarely used before, and I’m not talking about my hamstrings.
Novellas require faster pacing, crisper writing, and fewer plot lines than full-length novels, yet still must deliver the conflict, character arcs, and happily-ever-after of their larger cousins. These differences pushed me to tweak my writing process, focus my plot, limit my characters, and tighten my writing. With the novella completed, I’ve discovered new skills and honed existing ones that will fortify my writing when I return to novel length fiction.
The exercise (pun intended) of writing a novella provided the same benefits for my writing as throwing a yoga routine in with my aerobic routine did for my physical fitness. I’ve become more flexible, enhanced the skills I’d previously learned, developed new ones, reenergized my writing, and improved my overall conditioning level.
How about you? Do you cross train?