No athlete would consider going into a game without limbering up first. A musician or singer always practices andwarms up before stepping out on stage. Even a tv presenter does a few vocal exercises, a few shoulder stretches, before the cameras roll. And so should a writer warm up before launching into the real work of writing. Just like the athlete’s warm up, the prewriting exercises are not an end in themselves, but are important for limbering up, preparing the creative writing muscle for performance. Learn to build these few extra moments into your writing schedule, to trigger your creativity, and to kick-start excellent writing.
Exercises to try include:
- write as many words as you can think of for a specific subject. For example SPORT, or FLOWER, or TRAVEL.
- don’t worry about the correctness or accuracy, just let each word trigger another, and another, and another.
- select two people who will never meet (eg, Napoleon Bonaparte and your mother) and write a conversation between them.
- write remembered fragments of dreams, and connect the fragments.
- write a nonsense verse as political comment.
- imagine your work is to write sentimental verses for greeting cards, and create some wild verses.
- write a letter to an imaginary publisher, explaining why your amazing manuscript is perfect for publication.
- write a sentence in which each word starts with the letters of your name, in correct sequence.
- write a paragraph in each sentence starts with the words of the last exercise, in correct sequence.
- write your Nobel Prize for Literature acceptance speech.
- write some suggestions for more exercises.
Of course, the trick is to use these exercises as just that – warm ups. Only spend a few minutes on your warm up, no matter how much fun you are having, then start on your project. You can always return to the warm up whenyou need a break, or when you face a momentary block, or when a phone call disrupts your concentration.
Solitude is both a bonus and a handicap for a writer – a bonus to be able to order your own work schedule; a handicap if your discipline is weak, or if you are interrupted often. Using these brief exercises can help transition you back into work after an interruption or a break – they can serve as a signal to your creativity that work is about to commence, so pay attention!
Always warm up your writing muscle, your work will be better for it! And share your favourite warm up with your fellow writers. Post your own creative warm ups here, tell the world of writers how you kick-start your creativity, what works best for you.