Using Twitter as a Writing Warmup

Like highly-trained athletes, writers need to warm up before they begin the day’s work. My general warmup exercise routine consists of the following:

1. Begin with espresso and the TLS – It’s important to have rituals and for me a solid three-shot ‘spro and a some fine literary commentary from the Times is as good as it gets.

2. Scribbling in my notebook – This includes abstract shapes, landscapes, figure drawing, but also bits of poetry and other ideas jotted down in rapid sequence.

3. 20 minutes of Journaling – In 20 minutes, I’m able to cover what’s going on in my mind at the moment, what I face for the day, how I’m progressing (or not) toward my writing goals. If all is well, I even slip into a bit of what I’m working on at the moment.

I probably spend close to an hour getting ready to roll. After I do that, I’m usually ready to get with the real writing.

Lately, I’ve been using Twitter to supplement my writing “workouts”. For me, Twitter is primarily an opportunity to socialize with a broad group of people who are interested in writing. By interacting with these great writers in 140 character bursts, I get to sharpen my foil against some of the best wits in the online writing business. I read their posts and comment on their sites. I’ve have learned a great deal and I greatly value the relationships I’m building over time.

As a result, Twitter has affected my writing in two positive ways:

1. I stay in the writing zone longer – My guru barista always suggests taking green tea after drinking espresso. He says it helps keep the caffeine buzz rolling along through the day and I quite agree. In many ways, this is what Twitter does for me when I’m going through the daily habits of a writer with a day job. By checking in periodically, I find that I keep myself in the writing flow and that means I can jump right back into my writing when those miraculous gaps appear in my day.

2. I’ve written fewer negative entries in my journal – Because I’m talking about my life in Twitter (and trying to be entertaining about it) I find that I am spending far less time having pity parties in 1,000 words or more. I think this is a very positive improvement and I welcome the change at all levels.

Twitter may not be pushups or plyometrics, but I do find that it’s a great way to begin the new writing day. If you decide to give it a try, look me up @hownottwrite!

Are you using Twitter to warm up or does Twitter just get in the way?

15 thoughts on “Using Twitter as a Writing Warmup

  1. I’m beginning to see more and more people use Twitter as a writing tool throughout the Blogosphere.

    Twitter must have something going on, eh?

  2. Absolutely, Jacqueline.

    I joined Twitter some time ago but I never really got into it. Then, as I started to spend more time actively blogging this year, I kept running into people who were out there, like James Chartrand (@menwithpens), Bob Younce (@writingjourney), and Karen Swim (@karenswim). Now I have over 250 friends from all walks of life. So many great ideas each day.

    P.S. Happy birthday! Can’t believe MindSprocket is two years old already!!! I’m sorry I missed the special party site. 🙁

  3. Jamie, I never even looked at it from that perspective, what a great insight! I love the interaction and the fact that I have met wonderful people like you. Through Twitter we struck up a friendship that I really value. I went back to blocking out my mornings to write (thanks for the inspiration!) so Twitter would be a nice warm-up. Thanks Jamie!

  4. @Karen [blush] Aw shucks. We miss you in the mornings.

    What Karen doesn’t know, folks, is that this post is all part of an elaborate plot to lure her back. At this moment, a highly trained team of tweeps are circling her blog waiting for the perfect opportunity to draw her back in with the promise of camaraderie and good fun. Watch and see…

  5. @Jamie, LOL! I had to stop laughing to type this response. You are funny and sweet and I’m glad we met. See you over morning coffee. 😉 Niebu Jamie!

  6. Your observation about Twitter undermining the ‘pity party’ rings true. Turning one’s real-life angst into a 140-character anecdote to amuse others is unbelievably therapeutic! And if that were the only reason to T-engage (which is far from the case), that alone would be enough.

    And I’m taking note of the espresso/green-tea wisdom (for which, thanks):
    Checking in at Twitter at intervals through the day, for me, feels a bit like [food analogy alert] the gluttonous Edwardian gent taking a small dish of sorbet to cleanse the palate between roast squab and suckling pig. Write, tweet, write, tweet, repeat until it’s a struggle to rise from the keyboard…

    rjleaman’s last blog post..Garden Giveaway… Go!

  7. @Rebecca You know, that sort of eating is how I got to be 400lbs back in the early 90s. Hope my writing doesn’t bloat like that. 😉

    Glad I could help with the tea-wisdom. My guru barista is truly the best.

  8. Very serious. My first programming job packed 180 or more onto my frame in a little over a year. Spending $10 at Taco Bell for lunch will do that to a fella. I lost it all and then some, have yo-yo’d quite a bit since. Tis the pleasure of working in the tech biz.

    I need to be more like my wife. She lifts 6 days a week. What a rock! I’d do it too if they’d install wi-fi at the gym and serve cinnamon rolls at the treadmill.

  9. Now you mention it, I do have programmer friends with a similar experience. Maybe not quite so dramatic… Two words: Wii Fit?

    You’re not the only one who could take a page from your energetic wife!

    rjleaman’s last blog post..Garden Giveaway… Go!

  10. I’ve never heard that about green tea but I’m definitely going to keep it in mind. I hate when the caffeine buzz wears off and I’m forced to take a nap. I love Twitter and my only gripe with it is that it distracts me from my work! In fact, I’ve been so caught up in work and other stuff the past couple of weeks, I haven’t had time to Tweet at all (and I miss it).

    Melissa Donovan’s last blog post..How I Launched My Freelance Writing Career

  11. @Melissa Well, the only thing you’ve really missed is that Twitter’s been up and down. Oh, wait, that’s par for the course!

    @Rebecca Wii Fit might work for some programmers, but most of the people I know are pretty hard core hackers. They’d just rewire it and order another pizza. 🙂

  12. As a side note, I just found out that my guru barista made this instructional video on kali silat knife fighting techniques. So, if I complain too much about my espresso said guru barista will kick my butt (he’s the one doing all the talking in the video):

    Yes, there are some strange folks down at the cafe… 🙂

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