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Sunday, July 24, 2016

How to defeat summer writing doldrums

"Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go."
E. L. Doctorow in The New York Times (20 October 1985)

Dauphin Island Sunset (photo by Jeff D. Johnston)

cj Sez:  Are you suffering from the same hellacious heat and humidity as I am? As much as I don’t like cold weather, this long string of 90-plus temperatures and rainy days is making me a slug. And to say I’ve been neglecting my writing life would be an understatement. My writing life has been almost non-existent, so I’m having a go at trading perspiration for inspiration. How am I doing that, you ask? Read on.

From Facebook
The first thing was an attempt to restart the critique group. For most of this year, each of us has been busy with our civilian lives (as opposed to the writerly life). One of us became a first-time mother, another entertained beau coup family and traveled, a third faced medical issues, and I loitered around the house, yard, and computer games. One of our members dropped out, but the rest of us were able to meet again a couple of weeks ago, and boy, did that feel good. I immediately felt inspiration massaging away at the brain cramp.

I’ve started re-reading mystery books—some good, some bad…the bad ones are great because as H. G. Wells said, “No compulsion in the world is stronger than the urge to edit someone else’s document.” (Amen.) Plus, I recognize what I don’t like to read and pray that knowledge will improve my writing.

I attended the Alabama Writers Conclave conference in Birmingham, AL, took in several workshops (I'll comment more on those next week), and had ten pages of my languishing work-in-progress professionally critiqued. When the last word on the last page was “good,” I knew I was on the right track. Great feeling.

2016 Writers Police Academy
200-word contest prompt

On Friday, I had a relaxing lunch with two other writer friends. We had all attended the conference, and the lunch was a nice way to reinforce our learning experiences and enthuse about what we’re going to write next. Me? I think I’ll seek out some prompts and write a few flash fiction pieces, maybe 200 or 400 words.

Yesterday, I spent an hour describing in detail my protagonist’s office space. (Not to be used in active scene, but in my backup document.) Since she will be in the office several times during the story, I needed to get a visual of the layout firmly fixed in my mind.

I’ve also started editing an old short story. The word count needs to be doubled to make it eligible to submit for an anthology. THAT will be a task, because I naturally write very tight. I’m looking forward to it, though. 

The next thing I’m going to do is head for a change of scenery. It’s been several years since I visited family, friends, and old stomping grounds in Michigan, so I’m headed north, 1100 miles from the Alabama Gulf Coast for a whirlwind one-week (gasp) visit. I’m hoping that when I get home again, I’ll be able to set and meet some new writing deadlines.

That’s my plan. How about you? What do you do to escape the summer writing doldrums?

On Wednesday, lawyer and author Susan Spann has given me permission to reprint her post on the myths of copyrights for novels and other creative work. Super interesting and informative piece. Please stop by and let us know if you’ve found some helpful nuggets.

Okay, you-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.

cj
cjpetterson@gmail.com
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3 comments:

  1. I'm spinning my writing wheels, too. Dog days, I guess! It was great to meet you in Birmingham.

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  2. Dog days, indeed. I found lots of useful nuggets at the Conclave conference, and your handouts had a bunch of them. Thanks for stopping by, Kaye.

    Marilyn (aka cj)

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