Cross Training for Writers

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:

canstockphoto29489666Greater flexibility

Enhancing current skills

Developing new skills

Reducing boredom

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?

 

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About Rebecca Heflin

I've dreamed of writing romantic fiction since I was fifteen and my older sister snuck a copy of Kathleen Woodiwiss' Shanna to me and told me to read it. Now I write women's fiction and contemporary romance under the name Rebecca Heflin. In case you're wondering, Rebecca Heflin is an abbreviated version of my great-great grandmother's name: Sarah Anne Rebecca Heflin Apple Smith. Whew! And you wondered why I shortened it. When not passionately pursuing my dream, I am busy with my day-job at a large state university or running the non-profit cancer organization my husband and I founded. I'm a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), Florida Romance Writers, RWA Contemporary Romance, Savvy Authors, and Florida Writers Association. My mountain-climbing husband and I live at sea level in sunny Florida.
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2 Responses to Cross Training for Writers

  1. Definitely a cross-trainer. My first book is a historical novel based on my mother’s survival of the Holocaust. My second & third are romantic/suspense/sexy. I just completed the first book of a new series and have started the second, both thrillers with a dose of sex. After that, I already have the next in mind and it’s completely different.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Tema Merback
    Writing as Belle Ami

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