It’s a little late in the season for spring cleaning but I find that I’m looking over how time gets spent and, like an editor poring over redundant sentences, I excise those things that were not bad, which brought pleasure, but were not really helping my writing career as a whole. Because it’s been a rainy summer this year, (and we got a new kayak) I’m really attempting to cherish our sunny days before leaves drop and the chill wind begins whistling winter songs.
Everyone who’s been writing for a while can tell you how solitary writing can be. My husband and I are both writers and it’s easy to fall into a habit of spending days in front of a computer screen, or writing while staring out a window, but not participating in life. I want to enjoy it outside with others. I discovered more joy and creativity when the sun shines and I’m active. I have fantastic friends whose company I truly delight in and it’s easy to get busy writing and let far too much time slide between visits. Participating in life gives us material to write about. Combining the two can give you fantastic results.
It’s an opportunity to hear a new story or a storyline I can run wild with. You may see something along the way, like I did: A young teenage girl on a pink bicycle texting while she rode wobbling precariously on the edge of a busy street. I wanted to follow her to see what happened.
So, you may ask, how do I stay focused on my writing and still enjoy my summer?
- Keep your pen and notebook handy. Be on the lookout for little scenes and character sketches.
- Think through your day. What’s ahead? Family reunion? A day in the amusement park? A wedding? Jot down some of the vignettes you catch. Describe some of the people there, what they wore, how they behaved. Write down any great lines you hear.
- Going on vacation? Take lots of photos and write descriptions of your lodgings, people at the pool, people in restaurants. Did you get a quirky waiter or funny waitress?
- Going camping? What disastrous thing happened? (I’ve never been camping without some sort of disaster. I hope you fare better than I!)
- Going to a street fair? Farmer’s Market? Arts and Craft show? What sort of people do you see there? Find out about the vendors who are working the show. My husband once wrote a play about a woman selling bread he met at a Farmer’s Market. What sparks your imagination?
- Are you going to see a traveling Circus? Maybe you’ll get a chance to talk to some of the barkers, or performers. What philosophies do they have about life and traveling?
- Are you going to spend an evening watching outdoor theatre?
- Public fountains anyone? Not terribly far from where I live, there’s a shopping area built like a small town. It’s street after street of shops. Across from the book store is a pavilion with underground water jets. They’re timed and follow various patterns. The fountain is entertaining to watch on its own. When it’s extremely hot, parents dress their kids in bathing suits and let them run through it. Invariably one little kid will look down at where the water came from after it has gone and get a surprise squirt in the face.
It seems impossible to have too many character sketches, but you never can be sure where they might lead. I visited a friend who had recently moved to a new house. We had a lovely dinner, got the grand tour of the new digs and scoped out her new studio space. As we were about to leave, she discovered a tea light candle balloon had landed in her yard. It’s too good of an idea not to write about.