August 6, 2012

guest post: warming up before writing

Today, I'm happy to have Paul Carroll on the blog to talk about what to do before sitting down to write. This is his first post as part of his Balor Reborn release blog tour.

So, take it away Paul...

Warming Up Before Writing

By sheer accident, I planned to write my novella Balor Reborn at the same time as the Olympics in London. I gave myself a week, which essentially put me in the point of doing a Writing Marathon. With this in mind, we have the Writing Olympics, and a number of ‘events’ I took part in. Before all that, though, I had to warm up.

It’s fairly common knowledge that if you’re going to do some exercise, it’s a good idea to warm up beforehand. This is to prevent injury, largely, but also to allow for your maximum performance during whatever sport you’re part-taking in. Let’s be clear: there’s no way to really warm up to something that involves as much work as writing and publishing a book in a week. However, the actual writing aspect of it simply required some simple creative ‘stretches’.

For me, warming up took the form of writing haiku, three line Japanese poetry. The day before I set out to write the book, I wrote about a dozen of them in a short space of time to get the creative juices going. ‘Why?’ I hear you ask. Have you heard of “writer’s block”? It’s this supposed psychological block on a creative endeavour, given power over the writer by the writer. So, simply put: I did some warm up exercises to ensure I could get past the block on my creative endeavour.

And how do you write a haiku? Well, thankfully there’s a simple haiku to answer that (written by yours truly):

Take five syllables,
Then add another seven.
Finish with five more.

It doesn’t get simpler than that. However, you may not wish to write a haiku, and that’s fine. There are many other things you can do help warm up for writing, and to get past any psychological blocks you might have while you’re doing it. I’ll go through some here that I find useful when I get stuck writing, though my writing process was mainly hindered by two things: exhaustion and social media.

1. Don’t start with a blank page.
It’s been shown said that starting on a blank page is a hindrance to writing. When I write, I usually stop with something to write afterwards. When I first start a project, that’s obviously impossible, so I do my best to get something on a page. The easiest thing to do, I find, is to start by putting the title of the project and your name in big, bold letters on the first page, then begin on the next page. It always puts me in the mindset of writing a book, because I’m telling myself quite clearly that I’m writing one. I also write in chapters, so I can writer Chapter X when I start writing again if I finish at the end of a chapter.

2. Go in with a plan.
This doesn’t work for everyone, but I find it’s important for me when I’m doing something as mad as writing a book in a week. A plan helps to keep you focused on what you want to write, and can help you stay on track to make the rest of the work easier.

3. Create a deadline for yourself.
For me, I had a simple deadline: one week to write, edit and publish Balor Reborn. I split that week up, so I had three days to write the book, a day to do the cover and book trailer, and two days to edit. Having these deadlines helped to keep me focused on what I was writing, because I couldn’t afford to fall behind. The last day was my launch party, which leads me on to the next tip.

4. Celebrate the little victories.
I like to post on Facebook that I’ve reached a milestone word count. When I finish a book, I get a cup of tea. Keeping up these actions is proven to put you in a good mood, and to help keep you motivated. This, in turn, will help stave off any psychological blocks you have about a project.

5. Write a list.
This one works for some, and not for others. Some things to list can include the places you want to visit, what you can see out of the window of the room you’re writing in, the people you haven’t had a chance to speak to in a while, and the books you’re looking forward to reading. The point is to get your brain thinking in words, so when you go to write you’ll have words in your head.

Following the warming up, I was able to take part in the other ‘events’ of the 2012 Writing Olympics that had become my book in a week challenge. To go into a project without being prepared is a call for trouble, so be sure to follow these tips, or others you can find, and avoid using the term “writer’s block” when you get stuck. There are always things you can do to get back on track.

About Paul...
Paul Carroll is a writer from Dublin. He is studying to be a teacher of Religion and English at second level, while working in a bookshop at weekends. His 'free time' is divided among assignments, fiction, poetry, articles and blog posts, as well as college Drama and almost weekly trips to the local cinema.
He has been writing since the age of twelve, with a love of words going back further than he can remember. When he isn't reading or writing, he likes to make use of social media, bake, and talk to friends. Often, he'll watch a horror film alone in the dark for the sheer joy of it.
He can be found online at
About Balor Reborn...
Old Ireland is returning, as an ancient evil arrives in Dublin. A single glance from his eye is all it takes to kill.
Stephen Fox is haunted by the memory of his wife, and suffers from guilt at abandoning his new-born son. The spirit of the tyrant Balor has come back to take his vengeance on the country. A hero must rise in the unwilling form of Fionn Murray, a university student with a mysterious past.. As a world of wonder unfolds around him, and with no one but his house mate Michael at his side, he’s left with the choice of running, or facing the evil that could consume the world.
Based on the old Irish myth of Balor of the Evil Eye, Balor Reborn is the first in a series that seeks to revive the magic of Ireland. It was written and published in one week.
It's available to buy on PDF, Epub and Mobi through his website,, and for $1.99.


  1. Great tips! Especially the don't start with a blank page. Sometimes all that white is intimidating!

  2. I love the tip going in with a plan, however sometimes you need to fly by the seat of your pants to get the most creatively awkward sentences to emerge. :P

  3. Holy Crayola. A book in a week?! I am in awe.

    I love the idea of starting off with the title and your name. I kind of do the same thing, and never realized why it helped. (I do them in a header, though, so I think I'm going to start taking your advice and put them in big, bold letters from now on.)