What's your warm-up?

Oct 07, 2021

Any singer will tell you that rolling out of bed and immediately making your most beautiful sounds is an unrealistic expectation. It can take hours of being awake and warming up before you’re in your “best voice.”

I’ve noticed a parallel with writing. It feels like a big ask to roll out of bed and dive into writing something of value. There’s a certain amount of warming up that’s required to activate those creative parts of the brain.

For me, this warming up involves meditating for 10-ish minutes, and then reading for an hour or so. Invariably (so far), something in the reading will light up that “ah-ha” part of my brain and send me to the keyboard.

Another writing warm-up I’ve used in the past is Julia Cameron's practice of morning pages (see The Artist’s Way). If you’re not familiar, the idea is to do three pages of journaling every single morning, as soon after you wake up as possible. The quality isn’t so important; the content isn’t meant to be shared. The focus is on quantity, just getting whatever is in your brain onto a page. Beginning your day from a generative place, rather than a reactive place.

While I haven’t followed this practice in a while, I see a direct pedagogical link between the morning pages for writing, and, say, scale work or lip trills for singing. You don’t perform lip trills for an audience (usually), and you don’t turn your morning pages into blog posts (usually). It’s about getting the blood flowing to the muscles—or the ideas flowing to the brain, as the case may be.

Whatever your version of creativity may be, how might you build a warm-up practice in order to create your best work?

Originally published at https://nathaniel-sullivan.com/reflect

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Nathaniel Sullivan

Nathaniel Sullivan is a freelance classical vocalist, theatre performer, and writer based in NYC. He shares his thoughts and experiences through performance and writing.