Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Do You Warm Up before Writing?

An experiment conducted by Dutch researchers, as recorded in Malcolm Gladwell's Blink, might have some relevance for writers.  In this experiment, students were to answer 42 questions from the Trivial Pursuit board game.  Half took a few minutes beforehand to think about "what it would mean to be a professor and write down everything that came to mind."  The other group sat and thought about "soccer hooligans."  The results?  The professor-thinker group answered 55.6% right.  The soccer-thinker group, 42.6% right.  The difference between the two groups?  The professor-thinkers were in a "'smart' frame of mind" (Gladwell 56).  This is one example amongst many in the book that shows the effectiveness of priming.

When I read this chapter, I remembered a news story months ago about warming-up and exercise.  The newscast mentioned it might not be necessary, that it didn't really minimize the occurrence of injuries and the like.  But after reading this chapter, I wondered if warm-up affects performance in a different way, like the experiment above.  Maybe it primes the exerciser to do better.  Maybe warming-up can prime a writer to write more effectively.  Perhaps simply going over yesterday's work, reading an article on writing, or looking at grammar from a book can help a person get in writing frame of mind faster and more effectively. 

It's worth a shot.  As I am currently revising the grammar in my novel, I'm going to start by reading about grammar before I work on my novel.  If nothing else, it might force me past that procrastination hurdle currently plaguing me.  Maybe it can do the same for you.  If  you try it, let me know how it works out for you.

Cites:  Gladwell, Malcolm. Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking. New York: Back Bay Books, 2005. Print.


Hiroko said...

That's not a bad idea. Sometimes, before I begin writing myself, I'll read a piece of older literature and try to learn from what I'm reading (take the eloquent form of _Les Miserables_, for example).

SphinxnihpS of Aker-Ruti said...

Hiroko, that's a good idea. I often have an author or a novel that serves as inspiration for my current work. Reading a little of it before might help.

Thanks for replying,

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