|Photo by me: a sweater I recently finished making|
It's so important for writers to experiment with other creative outlets so that their writing does not get stale. You want your writing to be fresh and interesting, right? The best way to do that is to step away from it periodically and try something new. Let's call it creative cross-training.
I first learned to knit when I was about nine years old. My mother taught me the basics and gave me some yarn to make a scarf. It took me about two years to make that scarf (which only ended up being about eighteen inches long and four inches wide) because I would put it down for months at a time and forget to work on it. When I would finally come back to it, I would have to refresh my memory of the stitches and basically start from scratch. Still, somehow I kept coming back to it over and over again until I finished the scarf.
A few years after that, I decided to give knitting another try. I got more yarn and began work on a tote bag. It was an ambitious project for me. The bag had to be knit in four pieces, felted to make the fabric stronger, and then sewn together. It took me nearly five years to finish it, but when I did, I felt like I had truly accomplished something great.
Making the bag was the beginning of a new love for me. Knitting had become something that I could do to get my creative juices flowing. New projects still provide the occasional challenge, but it now only takes me a few weeks to make something. Things that used to be difficult have gotten much easier with time and practice.
Now knitting is nearly a mindless activity for me. I can make most things without concentrating too hard, and this has proved helpful to my writing. Because I don’t have to concentrate too intensely when I’m knitting, I can let my mind wander and most often that will lead me to a creative insight for my writing.
Usually my best insights about whatever writing project I’m working on come when I’m doing something else.
I love creating new things and experimenting with new materials. Most importantly, I love opportunities to practice creative cross training because they allow me to return to my writing refreshed and insightful.
What’s your favorite form of creative cross-training? How do you keep the creative juices flowing when you get stuck in your writing?