So, this is supposed to be a blog about writing. A subject I should probably get back to.
But first, what do I do before writing? Well, if I remember, I Writercise!
Writercise started out as a joke. My NaNoWriMo group was going on a weekend retreat to Stradbroke Island (yes, that’s right, the Brisbane NaNoWriMo group gets resort retreats!), and those of us assisting the MLs were helping to organize activities. ‘Writercise’ was suggested, it got a laugh, and somehow I wound up volunteering to do it. I came up with a series of stretches and a couple of little writing exercises intended to help any writer get started on the day’s work. So here it is! The Stradbroke Island NaNoWriMo Writercise program. *
1. Stand up straight, and stretch your arms wayyyy up above your head until you’re on your tiptoes. Hold for a count of five, then slowly bring them back down.
2. Keep going down, slowly rolling your spine down until your torso and arms are hanging limp. If you can touch your toes, go ahead, but don’t push too hard if you can’t. Just go down until you feel the stretch in your hips/lower back. Hold for a count of five, then slowly come back up.
3. Stretch your arms out to the sides, straight and level with your shoulders, extending as far as you can. Hold for a count of five, then lower them slowly. Repeat.
4. Put one hand behind your head, then slide down until it rests on the nape of your neck or between your shoulder-blades if you can reach that far. Use the other hand to tug gently on your raised elbow to extend the stretch. Hold for a count of five. Repeat with other arm.
5. Hold out arms in front of you, fingers locked together and arms level with shoulders. Turn the palms of your hands out, and push gently, fingers still locked together. Hold for a count of five, then lower arms. Repeat.
6. Cross one arm across your body, at shoulder height. Use the other hand to grip your fore-arm and pull the arm closer to the opposing shoulder, so you feel a stretch in your shoulder and upper arm. Hold for a count of five, then repeat with the other arm.
7. Finger wiggling jazz hands!
Now sit down at your computer for the writing exercises.
1. Keyboard mash! Just wiggle your fingers around and mash away, to warm up the fingers a bit. I usually keep going until I have three or four lines of gibberish on the page.
2. Pick a letter, any letter, and give yourself one minute to write a sentence containing at least seven words starting with that letter. (Two minutes for the really hard ones like X) If the sentence makes sense, give yourself a pat on the back.
3. Close your eyes for the visualization exercise. Picture a blank page, free of words. Then picture one word rising up in the middle of the page, any word, like a fish rising to the top of a flat pond. Then another word, and then a third. Then imagine the page tilting a little, and a waterfall of words rising up and spilling down the page, filling it slowly from the bottom, the words coming quickly and easily and marshalling themselves into sentences and paragraphs, the page filling up with text. Then open your eyes, and you’re done!
The idea of Writercise is to come to the keyboard with your arms and hands relaxed and warm, ready for typing, your mind clear and ready to be productive – and, with the exercises, to be able to start with something other than a completely blank screen. Leave your exercises up there to start with – you can go back and delete them when you’ve filled a few pages and gotten the ball rolling.
Those who prefer to write by hand can skip the keyboard mash in favour of scribbling a bunch of swirls and squiggles on an empty page to warm up the pen hand. Other than that, the exercises are pretty much identical.
* Please keep in mind that I have absolutely no background in exercisey things, and did this purely for fun. Follow program at your own risk!