What is Your Writing Warm-Up?

Thursday, September 16, 2010
As you are probably aware, there are many how-to novel writing books on the market. John Steinbeck's "Journal of a Novel" is one you may not have heard of. But it is one that deserves a space on your bookshelf of writing books.
Never intended for publication, the "Journal" is a compilation of Steinbeck's letters to his editor Paul Covici.Using the letters as a warm-up to each day's work on Steinbeck's "East of Eden," the journal is inspiring while simultaneously of a how-to. Watching the inner workings of someone as he formulates his creation of one of America's literary masterpieces.
As a writer in the midst of writing a novel, reading "Journal of a Novel" is amazing. Steinbeck let's you see under the hood.
Steinbeck's use of this journal raised many questions in my mind, one of them is: do you use some kind of writing to warm-up into your day's writing?
When I can, I journal and try to use my journal to express my gratitude for what is going on in my life and my writing. I'm not writing about a particular scene or element of my project, as Steinbeck does. I don't have a specific muse or person in mind when I write in my journal. Others I know will use a creative writing exercise to get in the writing mode. Others dive into the writing project, with little or any writing warm up.
What do you do?
The other question I had was: how much do you share with someone when you are in the actual writing process?
While these letters Steinbeck wrote went unsent, he wrote them to specific person. I wondered if others were as open to friends or editors about their progress or process. In making an attempt to explain himself throughout the writing of "East of Eden," Steinbeck lays bear the frailties and vulnerabilities of the writing process itself. As well as the strengths and the deft hand of a master writer.

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a writer, editor and coach.


Unknown said...

So great to read about John Steinbeck's letters. He is one of my favorite American authors.
Have to say, I do not have a set strategy other than an overall mind map of the directions I want to pursue. That keeps me focused and enables me to set out to one branch or another in my daily writing.
I also find that reading articles such as this one and others at WU are an inspiration for getting focused for the day.
Sometimes I share about my writing as I develop a story or poem but I tend to keep the details to myself until near the end of writing.

PM_Poet Writer

Elizabeth King Humphrey said...

Thanks, Patricia. Interesting about the mind map and not having an overall strategy.
Have you read the Journal of a Novel?
I feel the need to read some Steinbeck novels soon...! :)


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