Writing. Life. We all wind down--or unwind--during the summer.
To stay fresh as writers, we need to plug in and recharge.
It's possible to recharge while you're busy doing other things, just like you recharge your cell phone while you're driving. You can also recharge while you relax, much like a trickle charger for your car battery.
This summer is shaping up to be very busy for me, so these days, my writing battery is getting restored while I'm doing other things, including writing and editing.
Did I mention I decided two months ago to self-publish one of my books? Well, I'm going through all the steps to prepare for that experience. Those of you who've taken the plunge, you know it's a time sump.
Back to ideas for powering up your writing. Let's start with getting a lift while completing writing-related tasks.
- Get your juices flowing by beginning the story that's been floating around inside your skull. Don't worry about plotting, outlining, or character arc maps. Just write some fun scenes. You'll have fresh ideas, and you'll discover if you enjoy your story enough to write it.
- Edit something you wrote at least six months ago. You'll see how your writing has grown. You'll practice your craft. And you'll feel a sense of accomplishment, which adds a turbo-boost to your writing battery.
Read a book on writing. It can be a very technical, how-to book, like Blake Snyder's Save the Cat, or it can be a inspirational book about writing a la Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird or Stephen King's On Writing. You'll learn something about craft or something about why you write. Won't that put a new spark on your pages?
- Take a writing class. Online or in-person, there's nothing like a good class to get you back in your writing mindset. A review of techniques you've studied but not practiced recently or new craft ideas can supply you with fresh scenes and new ways to convey your story.
Fae and Laura at RWA National this year.
Attend a writer's group or conference. Being in the presence of other writers renews the soul. The energy of a group of like-minded people can raise your own energy level and get you from the writing blahs to writing again. You'll meet new people, attend workshops that appeal to you, and perhaps, if you're lucky, you'll meet a new lifelong writing friend who will support you on your journey.
- If you've fallen out of regular critiquing, get your group on a schedule again. If you don't have a critique partner or group, find one, even if it's online. Set up a regular schedule and make a commitment to your group and yourself to submit and review the others' writing. You'll see things you do (that you shouldn't) and things that you wish you did better. Regular critiquing keeps the new ideas on the surface of your brain where they are accessible to you to improve your writing before someone else has to tell you what doesn't work.
Here are some covert ideas for revamping your writing agenda:
- Read that book that you bought a while back and just didn't have time to enjoy. Yes, you have time to read. In fact, if you write, you must read. But it doesn't have to be drudgery. After you've enjoyed the book, figure out what pulled you in, how the author kept you turning the pages, why you loved the characters. That's called research!
- Spend a day in your character's shoes. When you're running errands, consider how they would accomplish the tasks. What would be their mindsets? How would they look? What would they care the most about? This is research for deep POV. When you're waiting for the appointment that's running late, think about what your characters would do if they had to wait thirty minutes for someone. (Ask Laura Drake about riding with me when I was being my fighter pilot character while driving on the freeway!)
- Get out of town, or go to a new place in town. When you are in a new place, you are looking at your surroundings. What a perfect time to think about the importance of setting, how setting can build tension or mood. How much setting do you need before it gets "old"?
- Have a leisurely lunch. By yourself. People watch. Note how they treat the servers, ask questions about the menu, give very specific orders, return food that is delivered to the table. You'll enjoy a good meal while you acquire ideas for scenes. I bet you'll go home and write a fun scene based on what you saw!
- Call a friend you haven't spoken to for at least a month. Besides renewing the relationship, you'll be amazed at life's turns, how surprises change our direction, our daily routines. Think about how one change can affect your character's daily life. It doesn't have to be a huge dramatic change. It could be as simple as caring for a friend's puppy while she's on vacation.
- Listen to music. The kind of music that makes you want to dance. Or sing. Or cry. We all have songs that we connect with, songs that we touch back to what we were doing when we listened. Music gets us in touch with our emotions. Spend an afternoon building your playlist.
Go to a bookstore. Look at the covers. Note what attracts you to the book. Read back cover blurbs. Which ones make you want to read more? Do they have something in common? Seeing all those remarkable books at a real bookstore can be inspiring. Who doesn't visualize your book on the shelf next to those best-sellers? (You could combine this with #4 above.)
The most important thing to remember is that when the summer heat wears you down, you can choose another way, rather than being "too tired" to write. You don't have to feel worn out, lackluster, out of steam. You have options. Fun options that can get you back writing. And isn't writing what makes us all happy?
Do you have a tip that reboots your writing psyche? Have you tried one of the ones listed above? Want to throw out a question for us?
Fae Rowen discovered the romance genre after years as a science fiction freak. Writing futuristics and medieval paranormals, she jokes that she can live anywhere but the present. As a mathematician, she knows life’s a lot more fun when you get to define your world and its rules.
Punished, oh-no, that’s published as a co-author of a math textbook, she yearns to hear personal stories about finding love from those who read her books, rather than the horrors of calculus lessons gone wrong. She is grateful for good friends who remind her to do the practical things in life like grocery shop, show up at the airport for a flight and pay bills.
A “hard” scientist who avoided writing classes like the plague, she now shares her brain with characters who demand that their stories be told. Amazing, gifted critique partners keep her on the straight and narrow. Feedback from readers keeps her fingers on the keyboard.
When she’s not hanging out at Writers in the Storm, you can visit Fae at http://faerowen.com or www.facebook.com/fae.rowen.