The fastest way to become a proficient content creator is to make writing part of your daily routine.
When you write habitually, you open up a channel that allows the ideas in your head to more easily become a physical expression of those ideas. You go from thoughts to words on a page faster. Your writing improves.
And because you’re better at writing, you enjoy it more.
And because you enjoy it more, you write more often.
It’s a happy circular pattern of, “Doing more, which leads to doing better, which leads to doing more.”
But none of the above helps you when you’ve fired up your computer only to find yourself in a stare down contest with that frightening little vertical bar that inspires dread in the best of us.
The cursed cursor.
From here on out, you may find yourself looking forward to being taunted by that blinking bar. Because you’re about to learn how to dive in and warm up your “writer’s brain” with fun techniques that will get your fingers moving and your ideas flowing.
What’s the purpose of a writer’s warm up?
A writer’s warm up is a fun exercise that prepares you for the work ahead. It’s designed to help you leap past any writer’s block you may feel and get you started writing quickly and easily.
- To get your fingers on your keyboard and typing.
- To begin getting your writer’s brain in gear.
- To write — with no judgment and no expectation of an outcome.
The point of a writer’s warm up is not to create publishable material. It’s to spend a short time getting yourself ready to create publishable work.
You don’t need to spend a lot of time on these warm ups: 10–15 minutes should do it.
Remember: no judgment and no expectation of results. Let your fingers do the thinking, not your mind.
1. Write a letter to the six-year-old you
There you were, all shiny-eyed and fresh-faced, heading off to the big world of school, friends, and life outside your home. Everything was new and different.
If only you knew then what you know now. All those hard-earned lessons life taught you along the way.
Of course, you wouldn’t want to pass all of them along to six-year-old you. You don’t want to scare yourself!
But if you could lean down and look six-year-old you in the eyes and speak a few words of wisdom, what would you say?
2. Answer a question friends or family have asked about your business
Remember the first time you told someone about your new website and they clearly didn’t understand your business?
You were diplomatic about it then. You explained what you do in simple terms you knew they’d comprehend.
But what if you could do it over?
What if you were given a soapbox to stand on where you could go on and on about what motivates you to work so hard, why you’re passionate about the work you do, and how you plan to change the world with your work?
3. Put your blog categories in front of you and brainstorm ideas
Remember back when you set up your blog categories?
You thought you had a good idea of the topics you planned to cover. Over time, though, you may have found your content drifting into other areas of interest. You may have forgotten what your original intentions were.
In this exercise, you’re not going to write a piece of content to fit one of your categories. You’re going to dig out your categories, put the list in front of you, and simply brainstorm content topics that will fit into the categories you haven’t touched in a long time.
Don’t write content … write content ideas.
What content ideas can you come up with for categories you’ve ignored for a while?
4. Troll your comments and write to one reader
If there’s one thing a lively comments section is good for, it’s the reliable intelligence you can gain from simply paying attention to the comments your readers write.
They’ll let you know if:
- They understand your point.
- Your content created more questions than answers.
- They want to know more about your content topic.
- Their situation is different and they don’t understand how to apply your information.
For this exercise, look for a particularly passionate comment. Write back to the person.
Remember, this won’t be published. If you could say anything back to the commenter, what would you say?
5. Write a “Dear John” letter to the person who doesn’t fit your market
One of the first and most difficult decisions we must make when we’re marketing a business is to decide who we want to target with our products and services — and who we don’t want to target.
Intentionally choosing a group to appeal to and a group who you don’t want as customers is crucial. Why waste time attracting prospects you don’t want as customers?
Make no mistake — this step is tough. It’s not easy to walk away from potential sales.
That’s where this warm up can help.
Write a “Dear John” break-up letter to the people you don’t want to serve.
Remember, no one will see this. This warm up will help you reinforce your concept of who you serve and who you don’t want to serve.
What will you say to the person you really don’t want to sell to?
6. Write in present tense describing what your life is like after achieving a big goal
Do you have a big dream you’re working to achieve?
In this warm up, you’re going to imagine you’re already there. You’re going to write about what life is like now that your dream is a reality.
Spend 10–15 minutes describing what your life is like in the present tense now that you’ve achieved your big goal. Write in first person, too, so you feel the experience first-hand.
Put yourself in the shoes of the future you. What is life like now that you’ve finally achieved your big dream?
7. Let go and free write
If the above ideas don’t work for you, or if you’ve done them all and want to try something else, consider a free writing session.
Free writing is a technique where you put your fingers to your keyboard and type whatever comes to mind. It’s truly “thinking with your fingertips.” It’s a way to get past any blocks or resistance you may feel about writing on a particular day.
To have a productive free writing session, follow these guidelines:
- Set a timer.
- Type whatever comes to mind, even if you start with “I really don’t feel like writing today.”
- Do not look back at what you’ve written and don’t edit anything you write.
- Aim for speed and don’t expect anything usable to come from it.
Remember, no one will see the gobbledygook this warm up produces. The end result is not the point: it’s the act of writing that will make a difference.
What will come out of your fingertips when you place them on your keyboard?
What do you do to warm up your writer’s brain?
Build your writing momentum by getting your fingers moving and your brain in gear using the seven warm ups above.
Do you have a favorite technique for warming up your writer’s brain? Share it with me in the comments!