What are warmup pages?
Warmup pages are exercises. They’re practice pages used to get your mind into writing mode. They’re also unfit for human consumption. So why post them?
When I began writing fiction, one of the most difficult things to wrap my head around was the idea that I’d never seen a first draft in my life. Sure, I’d read plenty of novels, but none of them were written in a single go.
Only later did I learn it’s a disservice to compare your first drafts to your favorite novels, which have seen enough red ink to paint a barn. The same holds true for most forms of writing: screenplays, comics, poems, and so on. Published works are well-adjusted adults who contribute to society. First drafts are puking babies. Folks, don’t throw out your babies. Put in the time and effort needed to help them grow up to be strong and healthy.
Makes sense. Concept understood. But when I searched for real examples of first drafts, I came up empty.
To fill this void, I post my warmup pages (sometimes called morning pages) for your review. They are the product of short freewriting sessions that prepare me to work on my actual writing. Nearly all my posts are first handwritten on a single sheet of paper and then typed up. These posts are not edited; there are plenty of resources available if you’re looking for editing advice. My purpose here is to show other writers, particularly new writers, what first drafts are all about: getting words on the page, building habits, and understanding that ideas are not sacred; they are an infinitely renewable resource.
If you’re looking for polish, it’s in the next aisle.
D. Roe Shocky
Below: An example of a warmup page in all its messy glory. This is Can’t Change the Past, written on January 2, 2021, published on the 12th of that same month. I always post three pieces per week—Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 10:00am Chicago time—and generally maintain some level of backlog. While each piece technically fits on a single notebook page, I often have to compress my handwriting at the end, and I’ve replaced all line breaks with pilcrows. This is a typical example.