[What's Next?] Spring Is In the Air
Written by
Cait Levin
February 2014
Written by
Cait Levin
February 2014

This week I find myself distracted by the promise of warm weather. I’m in the Northeast, so it’s not like we’ve been lucky in this arena, particularly lately. But last weekend we got up to 50 degrees (!!!) and now all I can think about is taking walks through the woods and lounging in Adirondack chairs.

I go through the same struggle every year when the weather gets warm. I’m someone who likes to be outside and, if given the choice, will always choose the outdoor option. I have a tendency to pack a bag with my laptop, books, and whatever notes I need to go do my writing. I even have a blanket that is exclusively for outside sitting. I lay out all of my notes, open the books to the appropriate pages, and open up my laptop with optimism. Then, every single time, it occurs to me: I can’t see my screen in the daylight.

It’s not just my computer; it's cell phones, iPods . . . I even remember squinting at a Game Boy screen in the sun, once upon a time. I’m sure there’s a perfectly good reason why the screens of electronic devices need to be so difficult to read in the sunlight, but I’d like to know what it is. It may seem counter-intuitive to take your gadgets outside, but in a world where everything we do is made so much faster with a gadget, it seems natural to me that companies would start looking for a way to make these things truly portable in every way.

I’ve tried every trick in the book – finding a shady tree to sit under, squinting through sunglasses, adjusting the brightness of my screen – and nothing seems to really make it worthwhile to bring my computer outside. Usually I end up throwing in the towel and going back to my room. I’ve positioned my desk right in front of the biggest window, so at least I can throw it open and feel like I’m close to being outside.

So I guess what I’m looking for this week is a solution: Does anyone out there struggle with this same issue? Is there something obvious I could be doing that I just haven’t realized? Granted, I’m a camp person (a hardcore, sing in the dining hall, sleep away-type of camp person), so as soon as it’s warm I’ve got the itch to be out there. But still, in a world where picnics and bocce ball are such popular activities, there must be more people out there who long for the great outdoors (or at least the local park). How do you balance your desire to soak up some Vitamin D with the need to get things done? Let me know in the comments below!

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  • Stacia Rogan

    Late to this post but in the past, I've dragged my beach umbrella into the backyard when desperate to work outside but unable to find a suitable spot of shade. That was before we built a a screened porch on the back of the house. Now I have plenty of shade, electrical outlets, and a fan. Spoiled rotten now. Except for the pollen. They DO make anti-glare screens for laptops - I had one for my last Windows laptop and it made a big difference. Flip it one way, it was a privacy screen, flip it the other way and it was anti-glare. You may want to check into that.

  • Caryl

    I seem to remember a commercial for a Kindle that has a "paper white" screen. It's made for reading in sunlight. But that's the only device I know of that addresses this problem. 

    Not my problem by the way. I'm with Sheldon Cooper who said, "If God meant for us be outside why did he make inside so nice?" ha

  • Toi Thomas

    I don't know that this has been much of a struggle for me, but I do enjoy writing in warm weather. I find that I'm a little more reserved. I don't like to mix my beach reading time with my writing time. I like to sit in front of a window with the sun facing away from my computer while sipping ice tea. Sometimes I like to take breaks and go for a walk in the sun, being to sure to turn at least one shade darker before heading in again...I would be nice though to have a tree house.

  • Cindy Eastman Writing

    I'm with the pen and paper crowd...but I have certainly run into the issue of working outside - even on my covered back porch.

    But who cares about all that...I'm fantasizing about treehouses now.... :)

  • Rebecca M. Douglass

    Ooh, I like the fairy hut and treehouse. Though it's pouring rain today, so I think I'll enjoy my computer indoors :).

    Caitlyn, pen and paper does slow me down, but I've found that's not always a bad thing. It changes my writing, in ways that I find particularly helpful when writing short stories. Anyway, I like keeping my options open--I do a lot of camping and backpacking, where pen and paper are the only options!

  • Patricia Robertson

    Use pen and paper! It works for me.

  • Cait Levin

    @Rebecca and Jacqui-- I've tried that, but I always find myself frustrated because it takes so much longer to get the words down!

    @Karen -- the fairy hut sounds great!! Maybe I just need a tree house :-)

  • Karen A Szklany Writing

    Reading the comments and answers so far makes me wonder if there is a fun solution where there is a shady area you could build a sort of make-shift lean-to of gossamer...a sort of "fairy hut" where you can work your writer's magic with your muse on your shoulder. Could possibly save on sun block, too.

  • Mardith Louisell

    I struggle with the same issue and  would love a solution.

  • Jacqui Brown

    I have found a newfound love of the pen and paper. It gets me out of writer's block as well. There's something about handwriting a chapter for a book that makes me really think things through since I never leave myself enough space for scribbling in notes. LOL

  • Rebecca M. Douglass

    Well, I just take a notebook and pen outdoors. The other option is to put a blanket over your head and the computer, which sorta defeats the purpose of being outdoors! But I'm comfortable composing at the computer or with a pen, so it makes it easier.