Like finally tuned athletes, it’s often suggested that we writers warm-up before truly flexing our writer muscles. The downsides are minimal (just a bit of time) and the benefits are numerous, including:
- Clear your head of the day’s troubles
- Get the creative juices flowing.
- And, more importantly, focus your attention on what you need most!
Writing warm-ups can take many forms and cover a wide variety of topics. In this writer’s humble(ish) opinion, the best warm-ups are those that focus the writer on areas that need the most attention.
- Are you weak at writing dialog?
- Does your world-building or scenery fall flat?
- Do character descriptions leave you wanting more?
Once you’ve figured out what you need to work on, add that into your warm-up routine. That way you are always reflecting and working on that topic every writing session!
As an sample to get you started on your own customized warm-up, here’s my own routine and why I use each step in the process:
Educate and refresh:
2 minutes – Read an article: Go to your favorite blog or how-to book on writing and read a passage/article. Doesn’t have to be relevant to what you are about to write. Just read and let the goodness sink in!
5 minutes – Cheat sheet: Read your own “cheat sheet” on writing. You have one of these, right? If not, build one!
Loosen the muscles:
2 minutes – Stream of Consciousness: Write whatever thoughts enter your head. Don’t try to analyze or filter anything. If your brain thinks it, write it.
2 minutes – Random object: Select a random object and write a description about it. Try to cover more than the basics, such as how the lighting falls across its surface or how it affects the world around it.
2 minutes – Celebrity appearance: Find a picture of a celebrity and write a description of their appearance. Be sure not to just detail them from head to toe, but instead, inject the details in a creative way. For example, if the celebrity is walking the red carpet, describe how their [insert color here] dress flows around their [describe body here], how their [insert style] hair droops over their boney shoulders, etc. Call out details that speak to the character of the person vs a laundry list covering hair, skin, eyes, mouth, and subsequent body parts.
2 minutes – Fiction summary: Write about a story you just read or are reading. Write a quick summary to cover the key points, focusing on plot, characters, world building, etc.
2 minutes – Dream rehash: Describe a recent dream or daydream you experienced.
2 minutes – Character review: Review character notes, at least those pertinent to the section you are about to write. Focus on key character traits to ensure you are staying consistent.
5 minutes – Research notes: If you’ve collected any specific research to support your scene, review them now to get yourself fresh.
5 minutes – Recap: Read over five minutes worth of what you’d written in the previous session (roughly 1000-2000 words). Or, if this new section will be a continuation from some other section, go back and read that. Do not use this as a time to edit (because that is a TRAP). Instead, use this to get yourself back into the world you have created.
If you’re looking for other writing prompts, there are many online resources to get you started. Just use your favorite Internet search engine and search for: writing prompts
Hope the above helps you in some positive way. If you have a minute, please be sure to leave a comment or swing by my author page at: http://www.timothyafenner.com
Best of luck to you and your writing!