How Creative Cross Training Can Improve your Writing

As marketers, we often lose sight of the fact that we’re artists. Business is quickly becoming a blend of art, entertainment, and marketing. Creativity plays a huge role in our ability to stand out in such a noisy world. While you don’t have be a great writer to build a popular brand, you do have to be creative. One of the best ways to increase your creativity is with a bit of creative cross training. Creative cross training can allow you to tap into all five senses with your writing. But in order for this to be effective, it can’t be forced. You must embrace your curiosity.

1. Learn to Paint, Draw or Sketch

A few months ago I came across a blog post by Karen Cheng about teaching yourself web design. One of the recommendations was that you learn how to draw. That intrigued me. So I picked up a book called How to Draw in 30 days. And, amazingly enough, my drawing started to influence my writing (which is my primary creative outlet). Learning how to draw teaches you to look at the world through a very different lens. It teaches you how to see, which in turn impacts your ability to describe things and enable readers to visualize.

2. Learn to Sing

“In spite of all communication technologies, no invention is as effective as the sound of the human voice. When we hear the human voice, we instinctively want to listen, in hopes of understanding it. Even when the speaker is searching for the right words to say.Even when all we hear is yelling, or crying, or singing.That’s because the human voice resonates differently from anything else in the world. That’s why we can hear a singer’s voice over the sound of a full orchestra. We will always hear that singer, no matter what else surrounds it.”  – Jake Bohm, Character in the TV Show Touch

Part of understanding voice as a writer is to develop an appreciation for how something sounds. That’s why you’ll often hear great writers tell you to read your work out loud. When we hear words out loud, the sound resonates and has an impact on us. Think about music. When you hear somebody singing, the impact on you is often emotional. Learning how to sing can teach you how to hear things. It will give you a deeper appreciation for the sound that words make.

3. Play a Musical Instrument

Playing a musical instrument is one of the best ways to increase your creative capacity. First, it allows you to use a different part of your brain. It also requires discipline. The quality and consistency of your practice has a direct impact on your performance. What’s interesting is that developing this kind of a habit will bleed into other parts of your life.

4. Learn To Cook

This might seem like a strange one, but learning to cook is actually a profound metaphor for writing. In cooking, you use lots of different ingredients to create something delicious. With writing, words are your ingredients and the final product is the dish.

5. Make Something with Your Hands

Making things with your hands allows you to feel things. As writers, what we’re trying to do is make people have a physical experience with words. But if you yourself lack physical experience, how can you use words to describe something? When you mold or make something with your own two hands, you’ll be able to do that with your writing as well. Here a few ways to get started:

  • Visit the Home Depot web site. There many DIY home improvement projects. At the moment, I’m researching how to build an Adirondack chair.
  • Go to your local arts and crafts store, like Michael’s. You can do something as simple as assemble a scrap book or build something more intricate.
  • Check out a book like Keri Smiths Wreck This Journal.

The point is to get your hands on whatever you’re creating. You want to tap into the curiosity you had when you were in the kindergarten classroom.

The most innovative companies in the world are setup like kindergarten classrooms. Playing with different art forms is about having a deeper appreciation for how each one of these impacts the five senses. Creative cross training allows you to bring sound, sight, feeling, taste, and touch into all of your work.