My output is amazing during the winter. For me, cold, dark days are conducive to hunkering down and writing as is the soggy, cool springtime. But once warm, sunny, blue skies roll around, it is so hard to keep my ass in the desk chair. This summer in particular, with stretches of dry heat, I’ve yearned for a rainy day not only for the sake of the lawn and my vegetable garden, but to keep me at the keyboard.
You see, I grew up with my mother shooing me along whenever the sun was shining to play outdoors. I can still hear her words, “It’s a beautiful day, and it’s a crime to waste it indoors.” As a writer, that’s my burden. Just as we now understand a parent’s urging to “be a member of the clean plate club” can plague a person through adulthood with problematic eating habits, I actually feel guilty being indoors when the sun is shining.
Then there’s the fact that I lived for a period of time in southern California, and so I feel like Boston winters are a test of my endurance. Once the good weather that I’ve been denied for nine months finally arrives, I’m like a drunk on a bender. I can’t help myself, greedily gorging on summer.
So as this season promises to roll into an equally beautiful autumn, I want to share some tactics I’ve developed for staying true to my writing life:
- Wake up to a routine, a consistent practice. For me, this includes a time of meditation. I end my relatively short meditation with the intention to have clarity and focus. (i.e. sit the ass in the chair)
- The earlier the writing starts, the better. Following a productive morning, I can treat an outdoor activity as a reward. (So I now make myself feel guilty if I don’t get the writing done first. Still dealing with guilt issues, but at least I have flipped it around to serve my purpose.)
- The morning is for writing only. Bill paying, emails, other paperwork can be done at the end of the day when I don’t need as much energy or creativity. (I’m a true believer that morning = creativity)
- And when all else fails, I grab a pen and notebook and go out into nature. Screens are hard in the natural light. I can sketch scenes or work on character development sometimes better when I take a break from the pulsating cursor.
Is it any wonder my debut novel, Eden, (May 2017, She Writes Press) is set in a summer community in Rhode Island? With the beating sun, the beach, and the ebbing tides as a backdrop to all the drama? Summertime might be my writing challenge, but has certainly provided me with a lot of inspiration.