When the temperature crawls above 80 degrees and the trees turn deep vibrant green, the seasonal songs of my youth start rolling through my head. One of my favorites is “Hot Fun in the Summertime,” by Sly and the Family Stone. The title says it all. Summer is a time for fun. For writers, though, finding fun in the hard work of creating the best manuscript we can is tough. Tayari Jones, author of Silver Sparrow, talked on her blog a while back about losing the fun. “I somehow let my desire to bring my A game almost undermine that same game,” she said. “Your ‘A’ game is still a game, and games are supposed to be fun. I forgot that if I, as the artist, am not having a good time, nobody else will either.”
So, what are some ways to have a good time with our writing this summer?
First, take some time off. It’s the season for vacations, isn’t it? We all know that getting away from what you’re writing is often an excellent way to solve a plot problem or come up with that perfect beginning. But while you’re away, whether for an hour or a week, don’t let your mind get lazy. Pay attention to what’s going on around you. In addition to soaking up the sun, soak up conversations. Watch people. Take in some new art. When I lived in Kansas, I had a friend who wrote copy for Hallmark Cards in Kansas City, Missouri. She told me once that she and her co-workers sometimes took the afternoon off to go to the movies, with the company’s blessing. “You can’t keep putting out all the time,” she said. “Sometimes you have to put back in.”
Another way to amp up the fun in your writing is to write something different. Take a break and work on a poem if you’ve been writing fiction. Or work on fiction if you’ve been writing an article. I think blogs work really well for this, which is another reason for starting one if you haven’t. Blog posts are short essays, and writing them is different from writing fiction, poetry, or articles. Stretch your writing muscles. Challenge yourself. I’m taking a break from what seems like the millionth revision of my novel while I write this post, and I’m having a great time.
You can also put some fun in your writing by writing somewhere else. If you have a laptop or some other portable writing device (pencils work well), get out of your usual workspace and go into the sunshine. Smell the flowers. Feel the breeze on your face. Let your mind run free. Even moving from one room to another can shake things up.
Enjoy summer. It only comes once a year. And enjoy your writing, too. It’ll show in your finished piece.