Okay, time for some real talk. Not many of you seem to warm up before working on your masterpieces. Many of you also don’t write anything except the content that you intend to publish. As someone who has been working in this industry for five years, I can’t help but ask… how?

Warming up is something that writers have done for a long time, and there are a few reasons why we do it. The most important reasons are building a writing habit, building up stamina for longer writing sessions and honing your craft. If you find yourself wanting to improve in any of these areas, a writing practice is a must!

Why You Should Warm Up

Somewhere along the line, writers forgot that they were artists.

Every artist warms up in one way or another.

Most other types of artists engage with smaller forms of what they are creating. A sketch every day, a small scale painting, a collection of poetic thoughts, all of these are considered warming up activities for various forms of art.

Writers aren’t exempt from needing to practise their art outside of their main projects.

Here are the top five benefits of warming up before your writing sessions.

Stamina

Warming up will increase your stamina. Writing things you don’t intend to publish will take the pressure off. When you stop worrying about the quality of your work, you tend to write more and write faster.

Try to keep going until you run out of words. You can write about whatever you like. In a couple of days, you’ll begin to see where you run out of steam; it will usually be around the same number of words. After you have your baseline, it is time to start pushing. If you want to improve your stamina, you’re going to begin by writing as much as you can and then gradually increasing your word count every session.

Speed

Another thing warming up does is increase writing speed. Now, this isn’t just words per minute, although that will improve. You will lessen the time it takes to get started and the time you spend thinking about the words that come next.

The more you warm up, the better you will become at allowing yourself to write a messy first draft. Perfection feels less important than getting your thoughts down quickly. Practice helps refocus the intention of your writing, giving you more fluency and expression without searching for words.

Comfort

There can be some anxiety surrounding writing, especially high-pressure content like a novel or something that you want to publish. The act of warming up for writing helps loosen those writing muscles and remove some of the pressure from working on your main project.

When I was taking my driving test, I booked a lesson right before warm-up to get the jitters out. During that last lesson, I almost crashed the car into a roundabout. I was so nervous. After that, I took the driving test and passed with flying colours. I was a very good driver at that point, but the anxiety surrounding a high-pressure situation made me mess up. I’m glad that the mess up happened in the practice and not on the test. So give yourself some writing time before the high-pressure situation to warm-up and get the mistakes out of the way.

Habit

Habit is something that was going to come up sooner or later. When you practise your writing, you will build a habit that you might start relying on. Making writing a part of your life is incredibly beneficial.

Where possible it is great to stop waiting for the right feeling and simply start writing. It’s rare that you’ll be inspired to write, but often, once we start, that coveted inspiration does come to us.

Quality

Quality is also something that had to be on this list.

Now quality, of course, also comes with editing. Your first drafts will never be entirely perfect, but you can make a good start on tidying up your first drafts through your writing practice.

While practising, begin playing with words, metaphors and similes and then highlight sections of writing that seem interesting and reusable. In this way, you are mining your work for nuggets of gold that you can put into future projects.

Practice time should be spent looking at the world through the eyes of an artist. Using that artistic eye can help you create some incredible moments, descriptions, characters or emotions. Don’t be afraid to reuse something you’ve written during practice. Your work is there for you!

How To Practice

Okay, so you’ve gotten through the spiel of why you should practice, but now you’re wondering how. Well, there are a couple of methods, but you’ll have to forgive me. I’ve touched on them before, so I will link an article to my favourite method so that I don’t have to repeat myself. One of the most effective ways to practice, in my opinion, is a freewrite.

Any form of writing is valid provided that you do it often and you do it with the intention of improving in one of the five areas.

Intention is essential when it comes to building skills. While practice will eventually improve the quality of your writing on its own, being intentional about your goals will speed up the process.

You’ll find different intentions are appropriate for different days. You might also feel like setting no intention on some days. This is also perfectly fine, so long as you are overall working towards enhancing your writing and you are content with your own progress.

As always, I cannot wait to see you on the bookshelf.