Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Summertime and the writing is . . .

Sharon Wildwind

. . . the same as it is the other three seasons of the year.

A few days ago I had lunch with fellow writers, the last time we would get together before fall. We got to talking about the good old writing days.

You remember, summers when the publishing world shut down June, July, and August. Especially August when every agent and publisher in New York City—and the publishing world was New York City—was reputed to leave town not to return until after the Labor Day weekend. When if you hadn’t sent off a submission by the middle of July, you knew there was no sense worrying about it until at least the middle of September.

When you might be lucky enough to take a writing workshop at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop or the Whidbey Island Writers Conference. Supposedly you were going there to write, but you going as much for what the Irish call craic, the fun and enjoyment of like-minded companions sharing talk, gossip, and perhaps a little wine around a campfire or on a deck overlooking a lake.

Or you’d pack your journal and perhaps the portable typewriter inherited from your great-aunt, fully intending to get into serious writing at the cottage or on the houseboat. Two weeks later you’d come home with maybe six pages of your journal filled.

Man, those were the days.

Back before there were year-around deadlines, 24/7 e-mail and social media, and a publishing world that never, ever sleeps.

I sometimes blog about how to find the motivation, time, and energy to keep writing. This week I suggest that you stop writing this summer. If you must write, do it as play.

Write in a different way than you usually do. If you’re usually banging on the keyboard, try writing in longhand in a journal.

Write stuff that makes you laugh, whether it’s a skit for the kids to perform at the family reunion or limericks, you can get a lot of healthy mileage out of writing AND laughing.

Take one photo everyday for 7 days. At the end of the week, download those 7 photos to your computer and use them to make up a short story.

If you quilt or sew, create some story-based fabric. Get yourself some light-colored fabric, freezer paper, and fabric markers. Iron the wrong side of the fabric to the waxy side of the freezer paper. Write with the markers all over the fabric, then quilt it into a purse, pillow, or small quilt. If you don’t quilt, find a quilting friend. You write and he or she quilts.

If you’re stuck with a deadline this summer and have to keep the serious stuff going, at least wear a funny hat while you write. I’m planning to wear my Mini Mouse Ears. 

And, I’m taking my own advice and doing two things for fun writing this summer. 

First, I’m joining two other local writers to inspire one another to turn out a complete first draft between June 27 and September 29. No pressure here just a lot of sharing and fun. We might even get in some of that crac on a deck overlooking a lake.

Second, I’m ignoring all deadlines, e-mail, and social media for three weeks. I’m sure I’ll be writing during those three weeks, but I hope all of it will be playful writing. I might even make a word quilt.
Quote for the week

Vacations are seen as an antidote to work. They are medicine, a remedy for counteracting the effects of labor.... Vacations allow us to be away from the job, to change the patterns of our day, to alter our routine, to reconfigure our actions and habits, to rediscover ourselves.
~Dr. Al Gini, ethicist, teacher, and writer in The Importance of Being Lazy


Sandra Parshall said...

I wish I could take the summer off and spend it working in the garden, taking pictures, and visiting the zoo. It's a nice dream. (sigh) Now back to work.

Anonymous said...

You're not the only one, Sandra. I'm talking to a lot of writers who have stopped seeing any difference between any season in terms of their workload. Some manage to carve out real vacations; some don't. More the pity.