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Summertime Playtime

by pattianncolt 15 June 2011 7 Comments

Summer and writing make my brain cramp. 

I have a theory about why.  If you were educated in the United States, June comes around and for twelve years or sixteen years or more depending on your education level, summer implied vacation.  Ten weeks unfettered by book learning and tests with time to sleep in, watch the stars, read tons, and generally be a slug.  After college, even while working, Summer implied sun tanning with a good book, barbecue and hanging with friends.  Serious projects were for fall when the enthusiasm for a new school year takes hold.  Or better still, they were for winter, when trapped inside by cold weather.

So here I am.  The calendar says it’s June 15th.  I’m self-employed with writing being my main focus, so goals and production are critical.  I don’t follow the school rhythm so much any more and I live in the south so typically no lengthy cold weather hibernation.  Yet, my subconscious apparently still follows this summer cycle. 

It’s June.  It’s vacation time.  Play hooky.  Go sit by the pool and read a book.  

I can hear my body succumbing to vacation mode  even as I type  that which means I can kiss goodbye June, July, and part of August.  The stack of books I’ve read since Memorial Day is ridiculous.  (I blame Nalini Singh).   My word count production?   Uh, not so much of that.  Now, I wouldn’t care except every single summer I crash into non-productive mode and I’ve vowed this summer will be different.  Why does it matter?  Because  in the ten weeks of summer vacation, I can write a book and the voices in my head are getting unruly.  Gotta get these damn characters into their damn stories before someone catches me walking around Target having conversations with non-existent people to relieve the pressure on my muse.  The breakdown has already begun.  My apologies to the man in the car next to me at the light yesterday who caught me yelling to myself and typing furiously into the notepad on my phone to get the dialogue before the light changed.  No sir, I’m not really crazy. Yet.

So my theory is that if I start a new project, I can let the thrill of creating a new story carry me over the hump of my summertime slugbug nature.  Don’t think, just write.  Ought to work, except I’m a plotter and I recently read an article (sorry can’t remember where) that suggested any writer that proceeded with a story without an outline was nuts.  On general principle, I might agree with that, but not when I’m trying to bring the big guns out to conquer a subconscious behavior that my body enjoys.  It’s like telling me I have to go run five miles before I can have a chocolate chip cookie.  Blek!  At my house, the to-be-read pile is 200 books deep and the  pool is only five steps out the back door, so BIG dragon fighting strategies are in order.  What I want here is to trick my brain into believing that there’s something freeing about sitting at a computer and just letting my muse out to play.  Hopefully, that strategy produces my first summertime book ever.

I’d be interested to hear if any of you have the same issues with summer and what strategies you use to be productive.  Help me out here.  I’m desperate for ideas.


  • Ryshia Kennie said:

    I find the best time to write is early in the morning. That seems to work all year round. Somehow it feels better to be inside on my computer at six o’clock in the morning and it’s only a few hours later that the summer day starts calling to me. But I have to admit I’m slightly more creative in the summer, snagging hours in the evening once the mosquitoes have arrived in full swarm and it doesn’t seem such a chore to go indoors. I’ve even hauled the laptop outside in the afternoon – although it’s a bit of a fight to see the screen in the sunlight, I wrote a good chunk of a story like that a couple of summers ago. A cool drink outside with your laptop – pretend it’s a book (which it is), and you don’t miss a minute of a summer day.

  • pattianncolt (author) said:

    Thanks Ryshia! Even with a pad and paper, the drink idea by the pool working on MY book is a really great idea. Might just do the trick. :-)

  • Kelly McCrady said:

    Summer in my household means a necessary change in daily routine due to have a school-age child underfoot. That begins tomorrow. The good part for me is like Ryshia said–If I get up at 6am I can work until 9am uniterrupted because the kiddo is slugabug in bed. Throughout the rest of the daytime hours I can tote around a notebook and pen or my laptop. Evening I can steal some more work time as needed after she’s in bed.

    The only issue I have with the changeover is 6am comes awfully early if I am undisciplined and stay up past 10:30 pm.

  • Lavada Dee said:

    For us in the Pacific NW spring hasn’t yet sprung and it’s looking a lot like summer may be doing the same. So far no problem as it’s rained almost every day. But… I write at night. In the dark I can’t see the patio calling.

    And, I’ve been thinking more and more about using a recorder and transcribing the story. Not sure if it would work for me but I’ve heard it does for others.

  • Laurie Ryan said:

    Also from the PNW here. I try to let summer inspire me. Getting the deck furniture out means getting to sit outside with my netbook and write. :) The worst time of year for me seems to be just before the weather changes for the better. I’m love the winter, but if it drags on too long, I get tired of it. So I find myself staring outside and willing the sun to shine instead of writing. :) So, seasonal strategies?
    Winter: a cup of hot cocoa or tea when I sit down to write.
    Summer: Writing outdoors.
    But Spring and Fall…well, I just don’t have any good ideas for these seasons. I’m busiest then (planting or winterizing).
    Have a GREAT summer!

  • pattianncolt (author) said:

    PNW Girl born and raised here, so I totally understand. I love life in the warm south, but there’s certain rituals I miss about being in the north. All good ideas here, ladies. I struggle rising in the morning, but the few times I’ve done it, I’ve managed a ton of words. Evening writing has long been a staple time for me, so will fall back on that when my willpower fades. Definitely have to try the outside thing. Thanks for all your thoughts!

  • Silver James said:

    Mine has been out of school (and is now out of the house!) long enough that I’m out of school-year practice. Not to mention that I just survived my 40th reunion.

    Being retired, and mostly childless but for the two rather large fuzzypups and the lolcat who demand occasional attentions, I have lots of time to work. That said, getting Iffy to play nice with my schedule is another question all together, so I feel your frustration. My only suggestion is to consider that time out by the pool as prime plotting time. Take a pad and pen and free associate. Make notes. See what pops up in your imagination. And then get to work! 😉

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