The mind is a muscle, and like any muscle before a work out, you want to warm it up a little. And like any muscle, if we don’t exercise and use our writing muscles regularly, we lose that creativity we authors are so famous for.
Sometimes I am forced to go for periods of time (days or weeks) without actual working on my works-in-progress. I am still bending the creative muscles, but I’m doing it through promotional exercises, edits, or just life matters. So the WIP’s are shoved into a back seat for a short time. It happens to all of us at some point.
What I have learned from those absences and when I return to the keyboard intending to pound away eagerly at my beloved WIP, is to pause first for some work out stretches beforehand. They help warm up my brain so I can get maximum mileage for my computer time. Here are some pre-writing exercises to get your brain muscle engaged:
1– Describe the current weather in detail. Write either a 200-250 word narrative describing it or a first person meteorologist accounting.
2– Work a word puzzle- think cross word, word find puzzle, on line game, Suduko, or Scrabble. Something with words and letters. Or even a good strategy game like Chess or Mah Jongg to engage the thinking skills.
3– Listen to a song and write a short story (flash fiction is fine) about the characters or feelings of the song.
4– Describe your morning or evening before, which ever fits into your time frame, in vivid detail by using the same POV and voice as your current POV.
5– Read the news headlines and write a short story from 1 or 2 POV’s about the headline in the genre of your WIP. Like # 4, word count isn’t important.
6– Look at a house or building that interests you and write about who lives there or works there, when it was built, its history, or what about it is unique. Why does it appeal to you?
7– Think of your favorite party, anniversary, wedding, celebration, or letter or gift. Write a short story (under 500 words) of why it was so special to you. Or conversely, why it wasn’t so special after all.
8– Pick a vehicle or mode of transportation and describe how it feels to drive it. It could be a sports car, motorcycle, boat, monster truck, unicycle, plane, Rolls Royce, limo, 18-wheeler, jet pack, skateboard, whatever you’ve never driven before but would like to try at least once.
9– Write a sentence using each letter of the alphabet. Bonus points for using alliteration. Examples are : An apple is always red or green. Boys buy buckets of baseballs. Cats consistently caterwaul and come only when they want to. You get the idea. See how far down the alphabet you can get.
10– Visit a coffee shop or restaurant and write your waiter/waitress/ barista’s story in under 1000 words. Then leave a large imaginary tip and write their reaction in another 200-250 words.
11– Go for a drive. Get out and look around you. Put the road names you pass into a story. Write down what you see. Describe in detail the weather, the roads, the sights. Interestingly, this entire list was composed while I was out driving around.
12– Now you are ready to start your long-awaited Work-in-progress with a warmed up brain. Good luck!