Thursday, November 13, 2008

Write on Wednesday: Warm-Ups

Why is it I always seem to do my “Write on Wednesday” on Thursday?!

In today’s inspiration post, our muse Becca talks about “warm up exercises,” equating those important musical drills with corresponding drills for writing. She offers several excellent exercises to get you on your way! (So go to Write on Wednesday and see what they are!)

Then she asks: How about you? Do you do writing exercises or warm-ups? Do you think they could be valuable? Have you found warm-up exercises helpful in some other area of your life, like art, music or athletics.

I don’t do writing exercises as often as I should. (For that matter, I don’t do a lot of exercises as often as I should!). Generally, I simply plow in and start to write.

But then, when I think of all these books at Loganberry Bookstore in Cleveland's Shaker Square (photographed by my cousin David), I have to acknowledge that all the words on those pages didn't get there because someone wrote on a whim. They honed their craft and they probably did that by practicing.

Becca mentions “Morning Pages” which I used to do regularly while following “The Artist’s Way” program. I don’t do it so often now, and my journal has more or less ended up being The Marmelade Gypsy, which I suppose is an exercise in itself.

But I have found warm-ups very useful in a number of ways. When I was singing, it was almost a requirement to warm up. Rick practices his classical guitar scales and bits and pieces for hours. (Have you noticed it’s fun to listen to people play and less fun to listen to them practice?)

While doing grief facilitation at Ele’s Place, we often would have our middle schoolers do writing exercises. And warm ups were essential. (Don’t tell a middle schooler he or she has to write about something! You trick them into it!)

For example, as we were trying to have them focus on memories related to their parent or sibling who died, we would have them free associate as many things as they could think of related to the person.

They would come up with lists that ranged from entries like “chocolate chip cookies” to “braided my hair” to “pretty” or “good cook.” We would give them 90 seconds and the lists could get pretty long.

Then we’d have them circle three that were especially meaningful at that moment in time.

And then, we’d ask them to pick one of them, and write a little bit about it. Prose, a poem, whatever they wanted. Then we’d talk about it, if they wanted to share. And they usually did.

As an exercise, it’s a good one because it helps us focus and narrow down the most critical points.
Here’s another exercise I sometimes do: Look at something right in front of you (for me, it’s my computer stand at work or the wall above it, and being the pack rat that I am, it’s always got lots of stuff on it!)

Write about something on your desk. It may be the framed photo of Rick and me when we went to visit Kevin his first year away at college.

Or I’ll use as inspiration the photo of my dear friend Patricia, with whom I used to work and turned me on to so many wonderful things in life. She died about eight years ago, I think. I miss her more than I can say.

It could be the rose on my desk, the stuffed Abby Cadabby that sits by my lamp, or the pile of Tab cans wedged between the computer station and the filing cabinet.

Finally, today I just checked in on Mama K's blog and she had another funny post about a notebook she and her friend Sharon share. All ideas that might someday be a novel. I won't tell you more here -- you'll need to visit Mama K! But, when I read it, I thought it was a GREAT idea for triggering writing thoughts!

Write away! It could be fun!


JessInFocus said...

I would say that my blog is my warm-up for writing, but that would require writing some where else.

Becca said...

I love your ideas for writing warm ups -especially the one you used with the kids. That's a great way to start thinking in terms of language, but also focus the mind on a particular subject.

Great post!

Rosa said...

That library makes my heart pitter patter!

gautami tripathy said...

I do prompts to keep my creative juices flowing!

warming up to you and lot more...

Anonymous said...

Jeanie - the picture of that library, OMG!!!! awesome.
Your writing exercises are great. (yes, can we combine them with physical exercise? Can my PC be propped up on a treadmill?) And a beautiful mention to your friend (got a little teary). So I'm ready to write this morning, having checked in with TMG, yet I must head to office as you are likely doing, too.

anno said...

Lovely post. I especially enjoyed reading about the writing prompts you keep on your desk.

Listening to people practice, though, always inspires me. Somehow, listening to them learn the music always helps me hear the music in new ways, too. But I don't think this is entirely normal...

BTW, I finally got my W post up (combined with something for WOW) -- thanks!

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