Tip No. 27 on today’s episode of #tuesdaywritingtips: Getting warmed up to write.
When I started running in the 1970s, conventional wisdom had us all stretching like preening flamingos before each workout. Not stretching, we were warned, would cause problems ranging from chronic injury to the heartbreak of psoriasis. Today, the thinking is nearly reversed, with most experts agreeing that while a little muscle warm-up isn’t a bad thing, the best and most important time to stretch is after a work-out, and not just the touch-your-toes variety, but a full set of exercises working on as many parts of your body as possible. (This philosophy was best summed up by the late exercise guru Jack LaLanne, who quipped–minus an expletive–“Have you ever seen a lion stretch before it attacks?”)
Conversely, I used to be adamant about not warming up before writing, defined generally as ignoring the Internet, email, Facebook and my horoscope and getting right to it. From a time-saving perspective there’s a value to this, and occasionally, especially when I sit down at night, I tend to plunge right in, reasoning that I’m already awake and (hopefully) full of ideas. When it comes to the morning, however, I find anymore that easing into the job at hand is not just a procrastination tool, but a way to bring my brain up to what little speed it has left. Typically, I start with a glance at my various Twitter feeds, which range from a collection of my Associated Press colleagues’ tweets, to state and national news outlets, to journalism-related entities and finally mystery writers (Mystweeters?). Next, I skim several websites devoted to mysteries and mystery writing, currently consisting of: The Strand Mystery Magazine, Crime Fiction Lover, Killer Nashville, Mystery Scene and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. Finally, I turn to letsrun.com, a website that covers the sport of running, where there is very little posted about stretching before workouts and, unfortunately, way too much about doping scandals. From there I might peruse Facebook and my personal email on my phone before facing the inevitable, opening up Word, brushing the beads of blood from my forehead and starting in for the morning.
So far I’ve avoided serious injury with this routine, although I still suffer from the heartbreak of adverbitis from time to time. Maybe I’ll just peak at the web to see if there’s a cure out there…