Cross-Train Your Brain for Creativity

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When I visit classrooms to talk about the writing process of By the Grace of Todd, I emphasize cross-training your imagination for maximum creative output. The looks I get from fifth-grade boys when I tell them that football players take ballet to enhance their agility and flexibility!

So to battle the deadline-inducing drafting burnout, I’ve started learning an advanced kind of doodling called tangle art. My teenage daughter is great at it, and I decided I need to give it a whirl to help me relax before I write. It’s been a huge help in clearing out the creative cobwebs.

As someone who writes professionally (and sadly neglects journaling), it’s really beneficial for me to do something artistic that I don’t have to reach perfection at or worry about selling.

IMG_0971I’ve also started listening to my favorite chillaxing music more as I draw and write. This is includes classical guitar, harp, Mozart, Bach… But when I’m really in a slump, I pull out my BTGOT playlist (PressPlay and some random dance trance music that’s not too “trancy”) because my brain seems to click into productivity mode when it hears music that I’ve been productive with before.

I also try to cross-train by occasionally working on plays or short stories, which is how I got started writing. The different styles stretch my grey matter and keep my brain cells breathing.

But there is a cautionary tale in all of this. When I finally allowed the wannabe artist in me loose after so many years in captivity to my writing muse, it took over. In fact, my warm-up sessions became so all-consuming that there were many nights I never got to the main event of working on my manuscript. So now I try to quit after thirty minutes and use the drawing as a reward if the writing goes well. Or even if it doesn’t.

What about you? How do you stretch your creative muscles?

Louise Galveston is the author of BY THE GRACE OF TODD (Penguin/Razorbill Feb. 27, 2014). She and her husband live in the Midwest with their eleven kids and a parrot. When Louise isn’t writing or folding laundry, she directs her local children’s theater, where she’s playwright in residence.
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