The power of warming up

So, here is a warmup for my discussion of ‘warmup’.

It’s a quick brain dump [not my favorite term, by the way] to get some ideas rolling.

It might be a typed list, since I’m currently [obviously] on my laptop, but it might evolve into a mind map in my codex.

But it’s something that gives me a starting point and it dodges the ol’ blank white paper/blank idea-less mind syndrome.


Get ideas flowing

Don’t stop yourself. Don’t edit yourself. 

Get some momentum. It can help you achieve flow. 

Sometimes it takes a few minutes, 50 or more words, but it is rarely a waste of time. 

It often clears your mind of other distractions. 

It reminds you that you have ‘shown up for work’, so that’s a reward in itself.

It just hit me that ‘warmup’ is such a nebulous unclear term that writing about it can be a little dry, but I’m forging ahead.

It loosens your muscles and it reminds you that, by warming up, you are striking out against ‘perfectionism’, so that’s another reward.

This is a practice that yields plenty of benefits and I think it’s worth making it a ‘habit’, one that shakes the cobwebs out of your brain. Right now, I feel like sketching two brains…one filled with cobwebs and then one—after warming up—with just a few wisps of cobweb.

I’m still going on this warmup about warmups. This is almost getting weird, isn’t it?

As I write this, I’m starting to get a vision of what an ideal warmup session might look like. It might well include a fresh cup of coffee and both analog and digital tools nearby. I wouldn’t want to be cooped up in a windowless room. And I would want some creativity books [a future post] nearby if I do get stuck. And I might even make a poster with some warmup criteria and prompts listed to keep me on track. Yeah, I like this. And I wouldn’t have reached that poster idea unless I had reached that ‘ideal warmup session’ idea, which had resulted from the previous 250 words. 

Wow…what a warmup session on ‘a discussion of warmups’.

Have a safe 4th of July weekend, everybody.

A Sunday afternoon writer’s retreat…the payoff.

typewriter-1373693_1280Following up on the retreat…

The benefits:

  1. The pep talk on paper actually occurred later that evening. I had plenty of post-retreat topics to cover.
  2. As my previous post showed, I learned plenty. I discovered some new, interesting folks who post good content.
  3. I have a new project.
  4. By itself, the preparation for the retreat sent me digging for trusty resources, such as If You Can Talk, You Can Write by Joel Saltzman.
  5. It gave me further focus for the rest of the week.
  6. I’m already pre-prepared for my next retreat.

From the department of ‘I just wish I…”

  1. generated more words. I only cranked out about 1000 words. I was hoping for twice that.
  2. got outside more on a pretty Sunday afternoon.
  3. had done a little more reading from my list

A Sunday afternoon writer’s retreat-Revelations and learnings…up to 10 items.


I’ve started my retreat and I just realized…with the power of an Internet-connected laptop, these speakers and experts can follow me all around the house. I can even do some cooking and not miss a beat.

From Jenna Moreci, I’ve learned:

1. the benefits of writing your characters’ dialogue straight through. Just write the spoken word. Don’t bother with tags or action or imagery. The exchanges will be more natural. You can fill in with the other stuff later.

2. the proliferation of online passive voice checkers

3. a YouTube teacher/speaker’s use of an ‘F-bomb’ feels tacky and lazy. Repeated use of it just feels forced. She has tons of good ideas and information. I’m guessing this whole F-bomb issue is generational.

More as the afternoon progresses…

4. Love that I can rewind video…multiple times when some point doesn’t ‘connect’.

5. With online instruction, I’m afforded [I need my passive voice checker, don’t I?] the ability to slice and dice, clang pots and pans, and curse my clumsiness as I spill wine that I’m glugging into the ribollitawithout the speaker glaring at me and questioning my social graces, not to mention my kitchen skills.



6. Scrivener is an ideal organizing and editing tool for my 50 Stepping Stones draft on my first year of retirement.

7. I could set aside whole afternoon retreats targeting just Joanna Penn videos and website content. Ditto Austin Kleon and Steven Pressfield.

8. Thanks to Joanna’s podcast will soon be buying Tim Grahl’s Running Down a Dream.

9. Most first novels are barely readable, so lighten up and finish it. [Joanna Penn, with my paraphrasing]

10. Sarra Cannon–For those who want to sell what they’ve published, release your work within a single series. [One of her videos auto-played at the the end of the Joanna Penn conversation with Tim Grahl.]

I’m down to 4% on my laptop and I’m using that to get my in gear to finish this post…

So, the more detailed plan for today…

1. Pep Talk on Paper [just a quick riff to get me going]

2. Inspiration from books:

Will try to include excerpts

3. YouTube/SkillShare/Podcasts

Productivity Sessions: [At least 10 minutes apiece; probably 15—interspersed between short inspiration and online skill development/refresher sessions]

  • Retire/Renew Blog Posts
  • ESL Course Module
  • New project: My take on the NFL Network’s RedZone, only I do lightning fast updates on six different kids in a fictional classroom.
  • Teachers Pay Teachers Project: Find graphics/images that pertain to my project
  • At least two segments on my other children’s writing project

Coffee and chocolate cake somewhere in the middle


Gee what are the odds the results will look entirely different from the carefully crafted plan above?

The earlier post—

Yep, get the cooking and other distractions out of the way.

Free up the afternoon

In preparation:

  1. create a playlist of YouTube/SkillShare videos to boost my confidence and expertise
  2. set writing goals–# of words, # of posts, # of minutes actually writing/editing
  3. tools for first draft work [camera, audio recorder]
  4. coffee and home-baked goods nearby

Other necessities:

  • A readiness to change locations if it’s called for. [Move to a coffee shop, a city park, the backyard]
  • Phones are off/airplane mode
  • A timer to maintain focus

Let’s see how it goes.