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Friday, June 6, 2014

Summer Chillaxin: Friday Forum

In May, we talked about character development. Now, we switch gears and look at summer, one of my favorite times of the year.

January 1st of every year, we scramble to write down our list of resolutions, our goals to be better and do more every year. The top ten resolutions (according to Statistic Brain) are:

1.     Lose weight
2.     Get organized
3.     Spend less, Save more
4.     Enjoy life to the fullest
5.     Stay fit and healthy
6.     Learn something exciting
7.     Quit smoking
8.     Help others achieve their dreams
9.     Fall in love
10.  Spend more time with family

Based on my pitiful track record, I found it shocking that 47% of people make it through the first six months still working on their resolutions. While I wouldn’t expect writing goals on a cumulative list for all people and the majority of people aren’t freelancers like me, none the less, it surprised me that almost half of the list is for self-improvement. Are we so morose about our personal value? Obviously, the answer is yes.

My guess is if you added the personal value writers have for the quality of their work, the number would leap to above 80%. Somehow, we got an extra gene, what I call the Q gene that tells us to Quit fooling ourselves and spend more time with the family, start an exercise program, and sit back and enjoy life to the fullest.

Forget it. A writer has to write, whether it is blog posts, magazine articles, short stories, music lyrics, screenplays, novels, non-fiction. We HAVE TO DO THIS!

Summer is the best shot we have for chillaxin. (for those without a teen in the house: Chillin' and relaxin' at the same time). You may or may not have an official vacation where one actually leaves home for the beach, the mountains, the etcetera, a place where you find a corner to dream, to imagine, to put pen to paper. But summer is the time when we take a collective breath, the kids can wear whatever they want to, there is no homework or band or football practice, no carpools except to drop them off at a camp (see Barefoot Writing Academy for writing camps – shameless plug).

While everyone is smiling more, I made a list of new summer resolutions for writers. These are a lot more fun that the top ten list above. Take a deep, cleansing breath and resolve to try a few. Your writing will appreciate it.

1.       Lie in your backyard and stare at the stars or the clouds rolling by: get kids who claim to be bored involved and find the shapes in the sky. Great opportunity to create a story and tap their fertile imaginations.

2.       Sort through your pictures (the ones you’ve been planning to scrapbook for the pastten years) and write a story about a beloved person you see in one. Oral storytelling with the kids is another fun activity, then write it down. Helps build character profiles for your next writing project.

3.       Let your mind wander as you pull weeds, plant and prune flowers, pick fresh veggies, mow the lawn. If a new plot idea rolls in as your mind roams aimlessly, run inside and write down the basic idea before you lose it.

4.       At our house, we summer clean rather than spring clean, because it’s so hot and humid in Mobile summers, it’s hard to breathe outside. Cleaning and tossing and organizing free the mind and the soul. Note: When Margaret Thatcher needed time to rest and think, she painted – not pictures but walls. She found it very cathartic and helped her solve problems of state.

5.       Have a no i day and unplug everything that rings or talks back: cell phones, pads, TV, radios, pc. Shocking for an hour or so and then you get in the rhythm and may find, you want more than one day alone with your thoughts. We learned this important lesson after a hurricane and everything was off.

6.       Have play dates with your family and friends – go on picnics, go roller skating, go bowling, go to a water park. Do not stay home!

7.       Have a DIY day with family and friends – make candles, paint on tee shirts, paint on the sidewalk (buy washable paints for this), make summer jewelry, birdhouses, or sand art. Have creative fun. Take loads of pictures and use those pictures to open your mind to the possibilities in a story.

8.       Have a silent retreat with no talking if your family is old enough. This can be done at home, a park, or a museum, which is a great place to wander and absorb the colors and ideas. Take a pad and pen along for everyone to write down ideas. After the day of silence, share them. Can’t do a whole day, dedicate a block of time in a day.

9.       Dance like no one is looking. Great exercise and loads of fun for everyone. I taught my granddaughter the words forward and backward, left and right dancing to the tunes of Donna Summer. She was only three and still remembers it. Need inspiration check this out:

10.    Throw a game night, all of which are creative games: Taboo, Scrabble, Boggle, Pictionary.

Keep a chillaxin journal and record notes after every event – what you felt, saw, heard, smelled, tasted, touched, learned about your family and friends, and, of course, any story insights that pop up along the way.

As writers, we need these times to let go, time to let our subconscious reveal itself with plot and character developments. We need time to enjoy our lives alone and with those we care about. We need to clear the cobwebs and sweep out the dust bunnies that are clogging our vents of creativity.

Before you ask, I purposely did not add reading to my list, because I know you will do that alone and with your kids no matter what the season.

Sorry, no pictures, Blogger is on strike against my pictures for some unknown reason today.



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