Have you ever tried to start a cold car in the middle of December? You hit the ignition, you give it extra gas—and nothing happens! Sometimes getting started on a piece of writing is just as hard as starting a cold engine. No matter how much we might want to get going, sometimes we just can't find the spark, or we can't seem to turn on the fuel. What we need is an extra charge for the battery, a little push, a boost. What we need is something to get us started, to warm us up!
Here are some warm-up exercises that will not only get the ink flowing, but will also give you plenty of ideas to write about later. You might try doing each of these warm-ups on a clean page of your notebook, so that you can come back at another time and expand what you've written. (We've given you some ideas for ways that you can use the material you develop here.)
- Make a list of the ten most important things that have ever happened to you. Later, write a page about each one. What happened? Who was involved? Why did it happen? Why was it important to you? What were the consequences?
- Write down the three most important lessons you have ever learned. Later, write about what you did with the knowledge. Why were these lessons valuable to you?
- In chronological order, jot down all the houses you've ever lived in. Later, choose the 3 most important and describe them. What made them important?
- Write down the names of the people you have loved longest and most dearly. Later, choose 3 to write about. Why did you love these people? What did they add to your life?
- Describe the three most imporant choices you've ever made. Later, write about what happened after you made each of these choices. What did they lead to?
- Write about the three most significant jobs (include volunteer work) you ever had. Later, choose one job and write about it. Be sure to tell how you grew from the experience. How did the work enrich your life?
- List the three most memorable events in your life. Later, choose one and write down everything you can remember about it.
- What is the funniest thing that ever happened to you? Later, see if you can remember two or three other funny things.
- List four things you would do differently if you had a choice. Later, write in detail about one of these. Why would you choose differently? What choice would you make instead? What difference do you think it would have made in your life?
- Write down five things that please and delight you the most. Later, choose one and do it. Write about the enjoyment and pleasure you feel.)
Other Warm-ups You Can Try!
Write about the groups you belong to.
Make a list of your hobbies. Which is your favorite?
Describe your three most comfortable outfits. What does each reveal about you?
Do you have any hand-me-down recipes? Collect them into a little booklet, with a paragraph telling who gave you the receipe and when. (Read "Soul Foods") What do you like about this recipe?
Choose a piece of furniture that you have loved. What does it look like? Where did it come from? Who did it belong to? Why do you love it?
Pick three favorite books. Why is each one important to you? What did you learn from each? What do these choices reveal about you?