Warming Up

I once read an interview with the actor Karl Malden in which he said he used to work with William Faulkner when Faulkner spent some time in Hollywood writing movie scripts. He said that Faulkner would warm up in the morning just writing random stories unrelated to whatever movie they were working on. Malden said he wished he had kept all of that warm-up writing Faulkner had done, that it would be worth a fortune.

I tend to write in the early morning. I love the quiet and the solitude. Yet I have to ease into the creative place, so I do warm-up writing. I do two things primarily. One is to write a post or two at another blog I keep. (I have kept a paper journal for decades, and I sometimes consider a blog to merely be the next incarnation of the reliable journal.) I can generally devour an hour or so writing these blog posts, and by then my mind is limber enough to turn to the hard work of writing fiction.

In the time I am away from my computer, I will take notes on slips of paper of plot ideas or character development or even just conversations that come to me. Later, when I’m at my computer and preparing to write, I’ll copy those handwritten notes into various files in my word processor where I can find them later when I’m working on that particular piece of fiction. This is an even better way to warm up because it is in the genre, often even in the story I’m about to work on.

Sometimes I ponder the notion that the hour or so I devote to warming up is time I should spend doing the actual creative writing, but I think it’s really all one piece. I’m glad I have the opportunity to warm up, and I don’t see myself stopping. Write on!

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