All muscles need exercise to function at peak efficiency. Every wise athlete knows the importance of loosening and stretching muscles before exercise or performance.
They also know how important it is to push themselves beyond their current limits on a regular basis. Runners are always training themselves to run faster or further. Weight lifters want to lift more. Triathletes want to endure longer. Everyone is trying to do better today than they did yesterday and they hope to do better tomorrow than they did today.
What if the muscle you’re about to use is your writing muscle? Are there exercises for that?
Yes! There most certainly are. There are exercises to build up your writing muscles if they’re a little on the flabby side and there are exercises to improve the efficiency and endurance of your writing muscles no matter how well-trained you might think yourself.
Warm Up Writing Exercises
I’ll share exercises for all areas of writing in the weeks to come. Today, I want to share a couple of warm up exercises that are ideal warm ups.
Take a blank piece of paper or open a fresh digital document. Sit back. Relax. Start writing.
Keep it short. No less than 10 minutes (you have to get warmed up) and no more than 20 or 30 minutes.
It doesn’t matter what you write about. Describe the room you’re in, the weather outside, your mood.
Since the idea is to stretch, you might describe something you’ve only seen once. A place you’ve visited, something you saw in passing, or something you’ve heard. This exercise is great for improving your ability to observe, too.
Start out with a few minutes of random idea generation. I like lists, so I have idea generation lists for titles, first lines, last lines, situations, characters, and so on. I keep about 20 different lists. (A complete list of idea starters is available upon request.)
When I want a writing warm up, I open one of those lists and add to it for five, ten, or fifteen minutes. The items don’t have to make sense. In fact a lot of them don’t, but the objective isn’t to make sense. It’s to get your writing muscles warmed up and in motion.
It doesn’t matter whether or not your brainstorming concerns your work-in-progress, though it may very well do so. The important thing is to write. This is a no pressure way to stretch your writing muscles so just start writing.
Combine brainstorming with a timed writing to increase the benefits of your warm up.
Try these three warm up exercises and see if they work. If they do, great! Repeat as needed and have fun.
If they don’t, try something else.
You’re also welcome to share your favorite warm up exercises. Who knows? Your favorite might be exactly what the doctor ordered for a fellow IPT reader.