You stretch before exercise so why not “stretch” before exerting your creative muscle? Warming up before beginning whatever writing project you are currently working on can assist with flow of thought and productivity. It helps to eliminate distractions and limber up your mind.
It may sound like a bizarre concept, but in many artistic and creative pursuits people warm-up. A singer will perform throat exercises to loosen their vocal cords; an artist will draw rough sketches to warm-up. So what can a writer do?
There are many different writing warm-up exercises you can employ. I have briefly described a few exercises I find useful below; however, you can click on the link to go through to a more detailed explanation of each warm-up. These are just a small sample of what I have found worked for me. There are so many more out there, and you can even develop your own. It is simply a matter of finding what works best for you and your writing style.
- Journaling – helps to stimulate thoughts and record ideas.
- Free Writing – write non-stop whatever thoughts fly into your heard for a set amount of time.
- Word Jar – have a jar full of random words, pick one out and write about it for a certain length of time.
- Random word link – Pick 3 random words and link them together in a short story or paragraph.
It doesn’t matter which one or how many warm-up activities you choose to use, the point of them is to get the writing process started and the words rolling. Generally speaking, getting started is the most difficult part of writing. It is much easier to carry over this flow of words and thoughts the warm-up exercises produce into your current project when your mind has been engaged in this manner.
To further enhance your writing ability, creativity and productivity form a routine that includes warm-up time. A routine that incorporates a warm-up can help activate the right frame of mind to approach your work. It is easy to use these exercises as another excuse to procrastinate, so be sure to set a time limit on how long you will warm-up for. About 10-20minutes is an ideal length so that you relax into your writing and hopefully when you start your project you wont be staring at a blank screen for long.
As mentioned earlier there are many different warm-up activities you can perform before (or during) writing. Here is a quick list of sites with some great exercises and ideas for warming up.
Experiment and mix it up until you find a routine and warm-up that suits your needs and writing style. It may seem like a lot of hard work now, but you will be grateful when you settle into it and discover how much time it really saves. You will greatly reduce the amount of time you stare at a blank screen waiting for inspiration to hit. And if you find that at any time during your writing you get stuck, you can use one of the activities to loosen up and get the words flowing again.
Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up.
– Jane Yolen