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: www.jdmader.com.