william wordsworth create quote

I like to doodle.

Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time editing fiction. It’s starting to feel like rearranging furniture and then putting it all back again.

Tiring. Even a tad boring. After awhile, editing work makes me miss the freedom of writing a first draft.

So I doodle, or do something else creative.

It’s called creative cross training. For example, if you primarily work with words, try your hand at something visual, or musical.


piano playing


Just like our actual muscles, our inventive ones can benefit from rest, stretching, and being challenged.

So I’ve been doodling. Sometimes I put together collages, or play around with a camera, or experiment in the kitchen.

My husband is a design engineer. He mentally cross trains with his guitar.


playing guitar


Shifting focus brings back artistic freedom. And that freedom can bring back the excitement–my favorite part of making stuff up!


 paul klee drawing quote

 Creative Cardio


What are your thoughts on creativity? Do you cross train creatively?

Happy Monday!


love bloggers

Check out the blog (and new book!) of mother and daughter writing team Inion N. Mathair.

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35 thoughts on “Creative Cross Training: From Words to Doodles

  1. Beth K. Vogt

    I pray in color. Yeah, it’s like doodling your prayers … using a big sketch pad and colored markers and pencils … and silence … And it refreshes my heart, mind and soul. I found out about it, oh I don’t remember. But there is a book titled “Praying In Color.” And the author has a blog too.
    I so enjoyed your post today.
    Wait … I always enjoy your posts, Coleen.

  2. Catherine

    Too bad we’re at the end of a month of Doodle a day on Facebook Coleen. You would have loved it. Got me in the doodling habit lots of fun!

  3. Patricia Tilton

    You express yourself in so many ways. I love your photography, but didn’t realize you are an artist too. We all need breaks from the left brain and play with the right brain. Excellent post!

    1. Coleen Patrick Post author

      I really like crafty stuff, kind of dabble in all different forms. You’re right, the breaks really do make a difference. Thanks, Patricia. 🙂

    1. Coleen Patrick Post author

      I so agree with you about cooking. One of my favorite ways to cook is to do my own Top Chef like quickfire with whatever I have on hand. 🙂

  4. August McLaughlin

    Fun post! I always love your use of quotes and images – so multi-talented. 🙂

    I’m a big fan of cross-training creatively. It’s really the only way I know how to function. For me, that involves writing various pieces at once and working music, experimental cooking, etc., in when I can. It’s so great for our brains and productivity. I also find it super fun.
    August McLaughlin recently posted..FAQ About Clitoral OrgasmsMy Profile

  5. Kathryn Chastain Treat

    I doodle or I get some fabric out and sew. Or I just get in the kitchen and do something else creative. I even find cleaning out cabinets or a closet helps to get me back on track because it totally changes how I use my mind.

    1. Coleen Patrick Post author

      I had a year or two where all I wanted to do was quilt! I loved just perusing the fabric squares at the sewing store. And I agree with you about organizing, it kind of centers me a bit too.

  6. tomwisk

    I kind of have to stick to one thing at a time. Usually when my brain gets wrung out I go to listening to music, something that I’ve bought on-line with no knowledge of genre or foreknowledge. If that fails I cook. I’m real good at that. But I escaped it to write.

    1. Coleen Patrick Post author

      “When my brain gets wrung out” –boy does that create a visual for me that really resonates! That’s exactly how it feels before I need to recharge.

  7. Phil

    Doodle? I can barely draw straight lines. LOL!

    For me it is listening to music and hitting the gym. I usually get some good ideas when hitting the weights with my ipod on and no one is bothering me. I need that alone time to just get into my brain. Plus, I write every one of my blog posts with music on. Usually heavy metal and hard rock. It works for me.
    Phil recently posted..Fat-astical NYC Frites Frenzy! In Mah Belly!My Profile

    1. Coleen Patrick Post author

      I’m not so good with the straight lines–I like the curvy shapes when I doodle. 🙂 I use music when I’m writing a first draft. I think I remember reading that Stephen King writes to heavy metal!!

  8. Patricia

    Oh my yes, I cross-train creatively all the time. I play the piano, I sing, I dance. I used to do a lot of community theater, but that hasn’t happened in quite a while.

    I think that focusing on anything else, besides what you’re working on, increases productivity a lot.

    If those are your doodles up above, they are amazing. You are quite creative.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt
    Patricia recently posted..And, Thank You For That Little ReminderMy Profile

    1. Coleen Patrick Post author

      Yeah, they’re my doodles. Thanks, Patricia. 🙂 I imagine you must have some of your music or dancing on video…hope you will post one day!

  9. Alarna Rose Gray

    Wow, seriously beautiful drawings, Coleen! You should keep doodling, for sure! I’m not very good at drawing, but I do see the value in ‘creative cross training’. I have a secret desire to take up carpentry one day – so I can renovate houses at the same time as writing. Of course, that takes time and money and time and… Yeah. Well. One day…Meantime, I’ll stick to cooking? 🙂

    1. Coleen Patrick Post author

      Carpentry! That sounds pretty cool. I imagine I’d probably lose my fingers if I picked up any sort of saw. My husband hovers whenever I pick up a knife. LOL Thank you, Alarna!

  10. Lynn Kelley

    Coleen, your doodles are gorgeous works of art! Wow! I love the terms “creative cross training” and “creative cardio.” Very cool. Yes, I’ve been doing some creative cross training by playing with iMovie and making YouTube videos. I love playing around with the special effects. And same with photos. I also love to do altered art scrapbooking, but it requires more time than I have these days. I can get lost in it and 12 hours goes by so fast, it’s unreal.

  11. clay

    great idea, actually never thought of it as ‘cross-training’ we all need something to keep ourselves sharp and our neurons firing. I use puzzles – like Rush Hour – there’s an app for iPhone plus tactile play, too. lately, I’ve been playing Gin Rummy on the phone but with actual real cards. Taught the game to my daughter O and we love playing cards. What a great reminder to keep our brains active and creating, thinking, and dreaming
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    1. Coleen Patrick

      I like to play games too–esp. word games! Scrabble and Bananagrams are some faves. I haven’t played cards in a really long time. I’m not sure I remember how to play a game, other than War, Old Maid, or Go Fish. 🙂

  12. Leigh Covington

    I think I do this, but never realized what I was doing! I like to draw too, but I suck at music. I think now that I understand this better, I can do it more productively 🙂 Glad you shared!

  13. Inion N. Mathair

    Feeling the love Coleen! We popped into our email for a break during EDITING (no joke)& found this blog love waiting for us. Thanks so much Coleen we needed that!! 😉 Funny enough, Inion despises Editing. She has so much energy & hates sitting still too long. So after a ten hour day of editing, she’s pulling her hair out & I’m ready to join in and help! lol. So not only did we need the luv, we needed the idea we picked up from your blog. Super way to cut the boredom so that your not ready to walk away & never return to your story! This couldn’t have worked out better for us. We will be implementing your Creative Cross-Training immediately! Thanks again for the blog love & for the brilliant plan!! BTW~I know what doodling is and my doodling never looked that good! lol. 🙂

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