One of the things I’ve realized about my own writing process is that–sometimes like working out–the hardest part is getting started. If that is the case, then the warmup–the entry point into the daily exercise–is even more critical than we ever thought. The warmup is what gets the ideas–the writer’s blood–flowing. Even when the movement of the warmup isn’t directly connected to that of the eventual workout, the stage is set and the page is cleared of its white space. The day I discovered this changed the way I think about everything that is hard to get started, writing and working out included.
It was a typical April afternoon. I had thirty minutes before the bell would dismiss Cam from school. And so, stopping at my favorite “gym” (Starbucks) I found myself an empty table. Taking a minute to get my space just-so, I arranged my tablet, my notebook, and my index-card-outline as if I were setting the table for dinner. What was even more obvious than the now not-so-empty table, was the page in front of me, now sitting all the more emptier in comparison. Just then, a line from the speaker above me in the corner caught my attention and I wrote:
“Sun shines around…”
The blues ooze smooth the square corners of the narrow dining room table at the corner of the coffee shop. I’ve come to rid myself of the caffeine withdrawal of the morning and to find rid the words on the page of its blank space. Not yet ready for that space, I turn to this one. A warmup of sorts, an exercise in observation.
The middle-aged woman flirts
without reservation unabashedly with the much younger male baristo (??) or is she flirtin trying to impress the her not-as-much-younger female companion.
The tremble of the piano interjects with a playfulness that catches my ear.
The blond, whose
tan shoes cream stilettos make match her platinum locks has left. Her fidgeting pump no longer call catching at the corners demanding notice from the corner of my eye.
Now that I look up, the man who had settled in front of his laptop as I paid for my latte is already gone, too.
And that’s it. I spent five minutes people-watching at Starbucks. The next twenty-five were the most productive I had had in a while. The warmup. It is the reason I will not waste another writing moment. It is–I hate to say it–also the reason I should be working out right now. But this is about writing. Let’s stick to writing. 🙂
I’m participating in the 2015 Teachers Write Online Summer Writing Camp. Today’s Tuesday Quick-Write with Phil Bildner was posted on Kate’s blog.