Tuesday, July 24, 2012 | By: HiDee

Dog Days of Summer Writing

The hottest, muggiest, most sultry days of summer are all around us.

Moisture. Heat. Sweat. Some days, it’s like living in a sauna. Sauna’s are enjoyed by many for a number of reasons, including to relieve stress, relax muscles, and deep-cleanse skin. I’ve never actually been in a sauna, so I can’t attest to the validity of these reasons. But the natural weather-induced feeling of being in a sauna doesn’t appear to offer the same benefits.  Instead, the hot, muggy days rob us of energy.

As defined by Dictionary.com, to stagnate is “to stop developing, growing, progressing, or advancing.” Whether the weather promotes stagnation in our writing or something else drags us down, writers must realize the possibilities available to them.

The world is our playground. It is ours to explore, both personally and in our writing fields. If we don’t like the monkey bars, we can move to the swings. If we don’t like the swings, we can move to the merry-go-round. Nobody says we can only do one thing. In order to develop our writing muscles, it is important to try a lot of different things, even if we stumble along the way.

Writers must grow. Our passion for the written word increases with each book we read, with each book we write. Reading stimulates our brains, poking us with pieces of information that we find ourselves unable to leave alone. We take those pieces of information and put them together until they take on a life of their own. We have to write because there is no other way for us.

Writers must advance their writing, moving continuously toward new goals and making progress by making improvements along the way. Without progress, we will not be successful.

The dog days of summer won’t be going away anytime soon. NOAA predicts above average temperatures for the next three months. What can we, as writers, do to combat the dog days of summer and avoid becoming stagnant?

Do something you probably haven’t done in years: Go to the library! I promise you it will be cool there. For many of us, our love of books started at the library. Remember how it felt to pick out a title that snagged your interest, and reverently turn the pages to see if you wanted to take that book home with you? Visit the reference section and do some research the old-fashioned way. You might stumble on something that will be perfect in your current work-in-progress.

If you don’t have a local library, spend the hot days at home or at a local café doing research online. Focus on finding something you need to know for your story. Find some obscure tidbit about your location that will make your setting more authentic. Research your ancestors and you might find a family secret that you can incorporate in your story.

If your brain just feels too overloaded, take yourself to the pool to cool off. The lazy river is my favorite hangout. I can drape myself over or in the inner tube and let the water take me where it will. Sometimes this allows my brain to follow, and I find myself overcoming whatever mental block has been stopping me.

Stay hydrated. During the day, fix a big jug of sun tea and sweeten it to your taste. Pour some in a big glass with ice and retreat to the patio or deck with a good book. Reading someone else’s work does a few things for you: 1) it allows you a much needed escape, 2) you can pick up on how words were used for maximum effect, and 3) it can remind you of things NOT to do in your own writing. In the evenings (not every evening though), make a milkshake or have a bowl of ice cream while you watch a movie. All in the name of research, of course!

What do you do to combat the dog days of summer?