Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Summer Days Driftin' Away












By Ronda Simmons










I recently attended a performance of the musical Grease at the Midtown Arts Center. If you don't know the story, it's about two teenagers who had a sweet summer romance at the beach only to find that their lives don't mesh so well once school starts.

It sort of reminds me of my writing career.



Endless Summer . . . Not


It's that time of the year. The Back to School sales are going full swing. I am tempted to buy a box of yellow number two pencils and sharpen them so I can inhale the heady smell of their shavings. I want to buy glue sticks and those pink erasers that look like coffins and new spiral notebooks. I don't need them, but old habits die hard.

The beginning of the summer was like the beginning of a new school year. I had goals.

I missed them all.

There are writers who have been amazingly productive over the summer and who have the accolades to prove it. For those in that camp: I am proud of you, I salute you, I envy you.

This column is for the rest of us.



Procrastination as an Art Form


Have no fear, my compaƱeros. If you, like me, spent more time goofing off this summer than you had planned, maybe you were more productive than you think.



The author not writing


While travelling across Arizona, I read an article in Writer's Digest's online newsletter by Jenna Blum on productive procrastination. Inspired by Jenna, I daydreamed about my protagonist as the miles rolled by. I came up with some new ways to make her life more difficult (my main character, not Jenna). Since I wasn't actually writing, per se, I was free to let my imagination roam. I thought up some crazy stuff that she is going to hate me for. (What do you mean she isn't real?)







Another photo of the author not writing



You've Got to Kill Your Darlings


I also came up with what was to me a startling revelation: my second main character has to go. I'm not saying that she is going to die in my book, I'm saying that she does not belong in this book. She needs a story of her own. By pulling her out of this one and saving her for later, I've tightened the narrative. I never would have gotten there if I hadn't used road coma to my advantage.


The author took this photo while not writing

Rebooting Writing 101



To get back in the habit of writing after a hiatus, here are some tips I follow, maybe some of them will work for you:





  • Write smaller pieces to get those writing muscles in shape again. (Hey, I wrote this column! That counts.)

  • Get caught up on reviewing (my critique group has been really productive).

  • Get out of the house and try writing in the library or a coffee house.

  • Take it slow. The first day back is not the time to set the bar at 5K words. 500 is OK. So is 100. So is 12.

  • Revisit the outline, see where the flaws are.

For Jenna's article and some more advice on writing after a long pause, check out these links:


Productive Procrastination: 7 Creative Activities to Distract Yourself from Writing








How do you get back in the writing game after a hiatus? Leave a comment below and share your secrets.





Guess what the author wasn't doing when she took this picture?










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