Every writer needs to warm up. We need to get that brain into writing mode, make sure the muscles are limber and ready to get to work.
I use warm ups especially when I don’t feel like writing. Instead of walking away from my desk, I do an exercise. Nine times out of ten by the time I’m done my warm up, I’ve changed my tune.
Here is my top ten list of writing warm up exercises. Do one every day before you start a project. Or, do one every day when you don’t have anything to write about. You’ll still be working on your craft, you’ll still be moving forward. It’s all writing.
TOP TEN WARM UP WRITING EXERCISES
1. Automatic Writing
I talked about this one a couple of weeks ago. Give yourself a time limit, a topic and go. Don’t stop, don’t self-censor, get those words on the page.
2. Personify an Object
If you ever have trouble creating characters, use this exercise. Take an object – a discarded coke can, a rock, a toy car – and get specific with it. If that object could talk, what would it think? What does it do all day? Write an inner monologue for this object. Write a character profile for them.
3. Prompt – picture, headline, object
Start collecting items to use as a prompt. Look at a picture and as a warm up exercise, ask 10 questions about that picture. Writing is all about the specifics and questions are a great way to dive deep. Focus on the who, what, where, when, why? And then try to answer those questions. There’s no right or wrong here, the best answer is the one you come up with.
4. Play a piece of music and write
We all need different stimuli to work. Some respond really well to music – do you? Throw on a piece of music at random and start automatic writing. What characters come to mind? What emotions does the music stir up? What locations do you visualize?
5. What’s going on outside your window
Easiest warm up ever. Every day look out your window and write down your observations. Be specific. Don’t just focus on what you see. What else is there?
6. Write a description of an object or person
Again it’s all about being specific. Take one person and describe them in utmost detail. Describe them using the five senses. Find the one word that describes them perfects. The one action that would tell a stranger everything.
7. Write a response to something you read, a tv show/movie you saw, a play you attended.
Your point of view and your opinion are useful writing tools. Start developing them in full. Watch a tv show and then write down your response. Go beyond “I like, I didn’t like.” Get specific with what’s happening, why you react in a certain way, who are the characters.
8. The Half page monologue
Monologues are key to the theatrical form. Get in the habit of writing them. Go to google news, find a headline, decide on a character who comes from that headline and write a half page monologue for that character. No more though, this is just a warm up.
9. The one location two person scene
After the monologue you need to become an expert on the two person, one location scene. For warm ups, stick to a page. Take two characters put them in a room and have them talk to each other. Define the relationship, define the want. Which one will leave at the end of the page?
10. Write in a specific form
Warm ups are a great place to experiment and explore. On Monday, write your one location two person scene. On Tuesday re-write the scene as a historical romance. On Wednesday, try absurd. Thursday, make it a children’s show. Friday, a musical.