The cult section of the literary world

The Tea House: Cross Training

Today is brought to you by a San Francisco French Roast, with milk and sugar.

One of the remarkable things about being human is our innate need to create. Whether it’s dinner or a song or a flower garden or a method for more effectively driving to work or a screenplay or a house, people are constantly creating things. Though creativity is part of being human, artists are particularly aware of their creativity and how valuable it is. We may also be more aware that creativity is a muscle that can be enhanced.

There’s a variety of ways to build your creativity muscle. Today, we’re going to talk about cross training.

In athletics, there’s the concept of cross training. Cross training is engaging is sports or physical activities in addition to one’s primary sport. So, for example, a runner may also lift weights and swim or bike. A soccer player may run. This cross training enhances the athlete’s performance in their primary sport by building the athlete’s skills in other physical areas not necessarily covered by her primary sport.

Artists can also benefit from cross training. In fact, though they may not be famous for it, a variety of artists have cross trained: Marilyn Monroe was a poet, William Faulkner, Zelda Fitzgerald, John Lennon and Miles Davis were visual artists, J. R. R. Tolkien wrote and illustrated a children’s book, Flannery O’Connor was a cartoonist. David Bowie is a visual artist. Jarvis Cocker is a filmmaker.

And, of course, there’s Bizarro’s own Carlton Mellick, who is a visual artist and writer (and he was even once in a band), Andrew Goldfarb, musician, visual artist and writer, and John Skipp, writer, filmmaker and musician. Then there’s Michael Allen Rose who does just about everything. And you know I could go on.

So, here’s the question: Are you an artist who engages in a variety of art? Do you write poetry and make gourmet meals? Do you play guitar and build ornate dinosaur models? Are you a dancer and an illustrator? Or do you cross train in your own discipline? Do you write short stories and a poet? Are you a novelist and essayist? How do your artistic pursuits fuel and support each other?

Or are you someone who has stuck to one type of art? Have you considered cross training as a way to expand your creativity and fuel your primary art?
Spike Marlowe has held a number of odd jobs, including working in a wild west show, as a detective, as a Bigfoot researcher, as a writer for an Internet content farm and as a busker. These days she’s a writer, blogger and bizarro editor for Eraserhead Press, with a focus on the New Bizarro Author Series. Her first book, Placenta of Love, is now available at all the usual locations. You can stalk her online at her website, Facebook or on Twitter at @spikemarlowe.

3 responses

  1. alanmclark

    Spike–this is an excellent article about a subject not addressed often enough, I think. I’ve had creative groups over the years with the goal of sharing work in progress. The members have been a mix of visual artists, writers, musicians, photographers, etc. We shared work we were working on, and since we were encouraging members to show works in progress, critique was not a generally part of the meetings. This inspired collaborations and just the sort of cross-training you refer to in this article.

    I am trained in fine art, but mostly produce illustration. My secondary major at college was sculpture, and I still create sculpture today. I’m the cook at home and experiment with foods from all over the world. I garden with Melody in the back yard (sounds dirty, huh? And it is!) Flower gardens, not food. I raise bonsai (my father got me into that). I’ve had four collections of my fiction and seven of my novels published. I’ve done a small amount of film animation. I’ve collaborated with at least 20 writers and 50 artists over the years. I suck at poetry and dancing, but can whistle real good. I’m always looking for collaborators to play with.

    Thanks for the article.

    April 21, 2014 at 12:19 pm

  2. Outside my day job I consider myself a musician mostly, but I do all kinds of stuff – sound design, films, writing. The good thing – I’m able to do almost everything myself. For example – usually indie film guys (directors) know very little about sound and they do not have necessary gear. I don’t have that problem. Music? I don’t bother looking for composers or free music. However, there’s a dark side. You get stuck on one project forever… Despite this fact, I always look for new things to get into. Lately – creating computer games.

    April 21, 2014 at 3:14 pm

  3. Reblogged this on THE BONKNESS MONSTER and commented:
    Spike’s Tea House. Always good. —Grimbol

    May 12, 2014 at 2:49 pm

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