August 11, 2010

Why You Should Ignore Mistakes in Your Warm-ups

Posted in Warm-Up tagged , , at 9:36 am by Rebecca Hein

In cello I teach and practice an activity known as “speed scales.” The procedure is to start slow, with an easy scale, then speed it up incrementally until you’re playing so fast that everything breaks down. Thus you experience the feel of fast playing, with nothing getting in the way, certainly not a preoccupation with the inevitable wrong notes which become more frequent as your speed increases.

A good writing warm-up is like speed scales. The goal is to experience the outpouring of language so you can learn to hear and feel it as it floods through you. The result is increased creativity, and you can look forward to this if you learn to ignore superficial errors and stay with your main purpose.



  1. It’s a good idea to get the first draft done while the idea is still fresh. Thanks to computers and screen readers, I’m able to do that and tidy up the mess later. Of course some typos can have distractingly hilarious results. I once typed the word “public” as “pubolic” and laughed for 5 minutes at how funny it sounded. The screen reader and hardware device, being literalists, pronounced the word “pew-ball-ic.”

    • Rebecca Hein said,

      “First get flow and later tidy up the mess” is a good working principle. It clears away our hang-ups on rules, which can so often impede us. but there’s a difference between a warm-up and a first draft, namely that in a warm-up we can ignore content. In a first draft, by definition we’re generating content, and this sets us up to expect more than just flow. This can then inhibit us, however slightly.

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