4 benefits of writing warm-ups

Sometimes it’s hard to get started in the morning.

It’s like that with any job, not just writing, but when it comes specifically to writing, how do you get the words and ideas flowing?

Writing doesn’t always begin with a blank page or fingers poised above a keyboard. As a matter of fact, before your child ever writes a word, consider starting off your writing session with a pre-writing activity or warm-up. You can use pre-writing exercises to:

1. Stimulate Thinking

“Just as you would stretch before you go running, you need to warm up before you start writing…. [Pre-writing] exercises …help you stretch your mind.” –Jack Prelutsky, poet

Try these writing warm-ups!

2. Help Kids Overcome Writer’s Block

“Starting with a writing warm-up can get the creative juices flowing, and help you bypass your critical mind that keeps you frozen and staring at a blank page. You can make up your own warm-ups by using prompts, questions, observations that you might keep in a notebook…

“Or you can get your warm-ups from someone else, using books or ‘flash card’ decks designed just for that purpose. Open a page, pick out a warm-up randomly, write it at the top of your journal or notebook page, and start writing.” —Jamie S. Walters, Ivy Sea

Try these printable card decks!

3. Put Aside Distractions and Focus on Writing

Pre-writing activities “aren’t meant to provoke publishable work. They’re meant to get … your brain warmed up and your ideas flowing….

“Put time limits on them if you have trouble stopping. When the time is up, dive straight into your ‘real’ writing no matter where you are, even if you’re in the middle of a sentence.”  —Heather Grove, freelance writer

Try these creative writing prompts!

4. Increase Vocabulary

“Play with sounds and words to discover something new about language and our world. By playing with the order and arrangement of words, repetition, connection, and word choice, we begin to learn how language works….

“By playing with words we often discover new ways of saying old things—we see with new eyes and create a new world that we had not recognized before.” —Andrew Green, former English teacher and author of Potato Hill Poetry

Try these writing warm-ups!

And here are a few more writing games and activities to play:

. . . . .

“What’s in the Bag?,” sentence-building games, and picture books are some of the many pre-writing activities and writing games tucked into the pages of WriteShop and WriteShop Primary.


  • Posted May 14, 2011


    I like to tell students that, to prevent injury, smart athletes always warm up their muscles before a workout, and that the brain is one big muscle. Writers who don’t warm up risk a painful brain cramp.

    Thanks for the helpful post.

  • Posted May 14, 2011


    Though warming up can seem like busy work, it’s so vital to the health and productivity of both athletes and writers.

    Love the mental picture of a “brain cramp”!

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