I love summer time.
When Memorial Day comes around, the smell of beaches and the sound of flip flops smacking the bottom of my feet just makes me happy. I think it comes from growing up in Houston. With Galveston only 45 minutes away, every day is a potential beach day, which meant adventure awaited you.
Now as a grown up and a writer, summer means something different to me. It’s time to go into summer writing mode, which means, ironically, you don’t stop writing. While Spring time can be a renewal, Summer time is where the renewal is put to action.
Here are seven things I do to that keep me writing in the summer time.
I write at my desk. Sometimes I write in a coffee shop or library. But, with the weather being nice in the DFW area lately, I’ve been sitting outside on my balcony with my coffee and having at it. I’m lucky that my view is a wooded green area that I love (it’s the reason I live in this certain apartment). The smell is amazing and it’s calming. Think picturesque greens with singing birds. I can sit out here for a while and just write away the day if I choose. Which I do. Routinely.
Writers should always be doing this with should being the keyword in this sentence. Sometimes, it’s hard to find the time to write, much less read. For me, I can’t write unless I’ve read some, I call it the well running dry. So during the summer, I tend to catch up on my reading. I’ll read whatever is around because, frankly, I collect books like most women collect shoes. However, after moving to the DFW area recently, I discovered my local library was amazing so I’ll be spending lots of time reading stuff from there.
Write something new
The “something new” I’m taking about is not a new story but something you don’t routinely write. If you’re a fiction writer, try poetry. If you’re a memoirist, try a screenplay. An important aspect about the writing life is continuing education. Learning or flexing skills you don’t usually use is a great way to get out of a rut and to expand your skills set. That doesn’t mean you’ll publish your new work (unless you really want to work on it) but it does mean that your approach to your writing, once you return, will be fresh.
Okay, if I’m being honest, I hate/love revision. The creative process is fantastic but when it comes to going back and revising, I’m not that thrilled with the thought of it. I think it comes from the many years of reporting where revision really meant two things: 1) grammar and spelling check 2.) accuracy. So the idea of going back to a scene and adding or taking out something makes me want to rip out my hair from the roots. However, at the same time, I enjoy the challenge of it. It’s a dual edge sword with me.
But summer is great for revision because, if you’re not doing anything new, you have an opportunity to take something you’ve created and make it pop. I actually have a system on how to work on revision that I’ve recently revised (ha!) and made available to my newsletter readers.
Join a group or do an activity (not about writing)
I have a character who becomes a jazz singer and I know eventually I’ll have to be in front of a group of people singing. I’m not looking forward to it but I feel like this is important to me as a writer. I have to write about the first time this character takes the stage and how can I do that if I don’t do it for myself?
Summer time is the perfect opportunity to do something or join a group not directly associated with writing. Does your character shoot a gun? Take a gun safety course and go out to the range. Is your character a fashionista? Read Vogue and go “shopping” to understand the draw. Is your character super athletic? Go jogging or ride a bike. This is an opportunity to get inside the character’s skin.
This is summer time, after all! Get out and enjoy the weather and friends/family! Don’t let summer pass by without at least a road trip.
Now, Walter Mosley says he writes every day, even on vacation. I don’t know about that but you should at least make sure your projects are at the point where you can leave them sitting for a few days. Write notes to yourself about what the next couple of scenes or chapters should do or what actions the characters will need to take. That way, when you return, you’re not struggling to remember where you were and what you wanted to do.
Stepping away could be just the thing to clear your head. Come back fresh to your writing. You’ll thank me for it.
What are you looking forward to this summer? Let me know in the comments below!