>Warm Ups

> I’ve gone back to exercising recently after a bit of a break, and despite my best efforts ended up tearing a muscle.

I blame the Brisbane City Council bus service.

Getting home and back out in time for Tae Know Do training is tight at the best of times. I usually end up five to ten minutes late, but thankfully the instructor is flexible (no pun intended). This time the damn 114 bus never turned up. After 40min waiting, myself and another frustrated bus goer hoicked it to the Myer Centre to catch the 120 – which of course, was also late. At least it arrived. On the other end I had a 10min sprint to get to my house, change then race for the training hall. All in all I was just over 40min late for a 1 1/2 hour class. Now that would have been fine, but this particular, cold rainy Brisbane winter day, my muscles did not agree. I did some quick stretches, then tried to do a fast series of front kicks to warm myself up for sparring, on the fifth kick. Ouch!! I had torn my left calf muscle. My first muscle tear. Instant invalid. I’ve been hobbling around ever since (slight consolation is female sympathy, women now hold lift doors open for me:)).

So that got me thinking. OK. Warm-ups are important, especially if you have done a lot of training in a short period of time and your muscles are fatigued (which is what happened to me – too much training without enough rest trying to ‘get back into it’). Why should writing be any different?

I often chastise myself for sitting down at the computer and finding it hard to flick a switch into creative flow, like I should be some sort of creative machine – a literary Spock. But what about the warm-up?

Perhaps juggling a few adjectives? Lifting heavy metaphors or running a tight course through some tricky punctuation?

Take some new words that have caught your attention (this week mine all start with ‘p’ – pernicious, pusillanimous) and construct a few fun sentences. Try writing about something that has been teasing at your mind, maybe a few ideas, or describe something that caught your attention (absolutely awesome mist in Brisbane this morning. Looked fantastic across the trees of nearby Toohey Forest. The airports were closed).

How do you warm yourself up for writing? Or do you regularly tear your writing muscles and limp from paragraph to paragraph? Got any suggestions for fun writing warm ups?


  1. >I tend to warm up the mind for writing by sitting in a really comfortable chair, closing my eyes, and day dreaming.Yes, warming up before a workout is vital. Light intensity, just enough to build a light sweat.

  2. >What nice ideas! I generally warm up by rereading the previous few pages and finding all the typos, homonyms and clunky sentences.Oh, all right. I'll never catch them all.Instead I could describeys sister's patio. The cool air, the bright sun coming in low from the east so early in the day. The very faint breeze is dropping a few dry leaves from the live oaks. I can hear the traffic on the road down the hill, but not see it.Straight ahead is the old cemetary. A pioneer family from the Califrnia Gold Rush era lived here, and their old graveyard is just inside Kate's property line. She turned it into a rose garden. This could be an interesting scene for setting mood. Now that I've thought of it, it will get used.But I'm not sure it's going to help me get to work on what I ought to be working on!MataPam

  3. >Hi, Rowena. That mist looked amazing floating around the trees of Toohey forest, so calm and mystical. I don't think the people who were waiting for delayed flights were too clam though:)

  4. >Hi, Chris. That sounds like an interesting exercise, I'll experiment with something similar. For a while I was writing descriptive scenes that I had either dreamt or seen in a random flash. That seemed more a tease than anything else though, not sure why.

  5. >Hi, Matapam. I loved reading that description, very evocative. I got a real sense of emotional connection and a clear sense for it visually.I think you have hit the nail on the head. There are lots of exercises, but somehow you need to warm up into what you are working on. I have to admit I do pretty much the same thing. I tend to go back a page or two and do some minor editing, try and pick up the flow. I usually works.

  6. >Torn calf muscle. Yipe! Been there, done that, did NOT like it one little bit. I was helping my retired neighbor push a broken-down car up into his driveway, not working out. Physical therapy lasted about six months. Good luck with your convalescence. On a positive note, I did get more writing done, since I was pretty much forced t sit with the ice on my leg for protracted periods …I typically warm up by arguing with one of my characters over something that didn't flow smoothly the day before. For some reason, I never seem to have any shortage of those …

  7. >Oh, my sympathies on trying to get back into training. I need to go back for karate and I know it's going to be hard precisely because of falling so far out of shape since we had to stop working out but still having the knowledge. The two things aren't in line any more. We went back a couple of times a while ago and that is so exactly it… I know how to do a proper stance or kick or kata, but doing them properly, even just punching the air at speed and force tends to stress and over-extend muscles and joints.Warming up writing? I don't know. I've been off that for a while too, for a lot of the same reasons that other things including karate have been neglected, but I never did have a regular "work out" routine for writing.And never much got anything done, either. I seem to get the most steam up for writing, though, by reading novels. Lots of them. Back to back. Or watching television. Somehow, thinking about those fictional stories and worlds makes me want to think about mine.

  8. >I've found I only need the warm-up when I haven't written in a long time. Sometimes reading is enough to warm up.I've started exercising after a long time not. Need to lose another ten pounds before I start running again. 😉 Wonder if it will help the writing.

  9. >Hi, Stephen. It sounds like your tear was more serious than mine. It was not a major tear – otherwise I would probably still be howling in pain – although its not a minor one either. Yes, definitely enjoying sitting down:)Tell me, who wins the arguments you or the characters? I'm thinking of pitching a new writing workshop for writers who are abused by their characters. Ten step program?

  10. >Hi, Synova. I also get inspired by letting myself get into movies and books. Maybe you need to try a little bit of 'holiday writing'. Let yourself go crazy on a pet idea – just let it lose without thinking too much about it.Maybe watch the movies and read until you feel a 'wave' rising, when the idea comes – just sit down and start typing until the wave reaches shore. You might be surprised.Getting back into any high level activity is hard after a break. You want to perform at that peak, but need to force yourself to build gradually. The only thing I can say is trust your own muscle memory – it will not take as long as you think.PS: Oh, and warm up properly!

  11. >Hi, Sarah. You probably class as athlete level:) Maybe we should have a writing Olympics?I know its a bit of a Aussie pastime, given our warmer climb, but how about swimming? Do you have any heated pools nearby? Its low impact, and a lot of people really prefer it to running. Its great for stomach muscles if you use your legs.

  12. >Chris, I don't know how severe your injury is, but I've only actually lost consciousness from pain three times in my life, and that torn calf muscle was one of them. (The first involved being run over by a drunk driver while crossing the street, the other involved flipping a bicycle at the bottom of a BIG hill.)Oh, the characters always win the arguments. That's a given. Trying to write something counter to the character's nature just produces drivel, in my experience. It's usually just a matter of figuring out how I'm going to rework the downstream landmarks I'd had roughed out, since the characters made choices that didn't lead them in that direction …

  13. >Stephen, that calf injury sounds very nasty indeed. Thankfully only part of my left calf tore. I am managing to walk OK, thank God. I broke my right leg in a motorcycle accident in 2007, and I would not want to got through something like that again. Being a burden is the worst of it.

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