5 Quirky Summer Writing Tips
Summer arrived this week with the solstice and a gift of sunny, balmy days here on the East Coast. School’s out and families are settling into new routines. If you’ve been secretly thinking all year that you’ll get to your writing in the summer, you might be surprised that it’s harder to ease into your new novel than you expected. I’m certainly finding that distractions abound. How can you get the most out of your summer writing days?
1. Like with exercise, you’ll get further with writing if you encourage rather than scold yourself, so don’t start off thinking you need a cruel, driving task-master with a stopwatch and a locked door. Remind yourself that your writing time is a gift. Tell yourself, You can do this. Experiment. Have fun. See where your pen takes you.
2. Outline a bit, but don’t stagnate in the Roman numerals. If you’re used to being analytical and productive in the rest of your life, you may be tempted to organize your novel. Go for it. But don’t be surprised if you don’t know how to actually write the thing after it’s all outlined. Creativity is messy and takes twisty paths. Give yourself credit for the pages that seem to be going nowhere, or which are frankly bad. That’s all part of the process.
3. Take walks, mow the lawn, and eat raspberries. These days are so sweet and fleeting, and intense sensual experiences that invite you to live in the moment are fabulous for feeding your ability to write with telling details. While mowing, feel the vibrations in your grip and hear the dusty roar, and then taste the refreshing coolness of a big glass of water when you slake your thirst afterward. You might find a character is doing exactly what you’re doing in your own life, but with added danger, and you’ll be better able to recreate those details since you’re living them.
4. Daydream when you can. It is tempting to turn on Netflix, play Ballz, and browse the web when you want to relax or have a spare minute waiting in a line, but those entertainments draw your mind down prescribed tracks and may, if you’re like me, leave you ultimately unsatisfied. Gazing out a window and letting your mind wander, on the other hand, can bring you back into the solid, unique, creative side of your mind where original ideas can generate. So unplug, turn off the radio, and put down your phone as much as you can.
5. Read books. If you really want to write a novel, when’s the last time you read one? Reading another writer’s work can not only transport you into that novel’s world but awaken your sense of craft curiosity and awe. How did that author build suspense there? Why did that bit of dialogue work so well? Curl your feet up and dive into a juicy gossip fest like The Bestseller (1996) by Olivia Goldsmith, or a clever new read like Celine (2017) by Peter Heller, or the ground-breaking graphic novel Soupy Leaves Home (2017) by Cecil Castellucci and Jose Pimienta. Let yourself be inspired.