Summer vacation is drawing to a close, and my kidlings are getting ready to go back to school. We've had a lovely summer with lots of clear skies and sunshine. Here's a picture that I took in June of the Seattle skyline. I remember it was a gorgeous day, so when I went looking for this photo today I was surprised to find clouds in the picture.
I'm from Southern California. I love it there, but I love it here, too. I even love the rain, most of the time. It's beautiful and not usually a drenching rain, but it feels like a constant once we turn the corner from summer. Do you know people here don't reschedule most activities if it's raining? It would be impractical. I was surprised the first time I saw kids at a local elementary school playing outside at recess when it was raining. Little League games don't usually get rained out unless there's lightning or the fields are too muddy. This kind of thinking reminds me of the persistence required for writing.
I work at my computer each day, and the story unfolds, bit by bit. I often can't wait to get going, and I long to get more of the story out of my head and onto the page. Then there are the times when it feels more like work, and I need to push myself to put in the time and move forward. These are the days that I have to make sure my story doesn't get rained out.
The Seattle Mariners play at Safeco Field, a stadium with a retractable roof. This guarantees that they can play, rain or shine. Regardless of whether you love or hate the Mariners, they have the right idea: we need to get our butts in our chairs to write, rain or shine.
In 2002, I took a fabulous class, The Art of Fiction, taught by David Guterson. I wanted to absorb the guy's intelligence and abilities through something like osmosis, just by breathing oxygen from the same room for the eight or so weeks that it lasted. The class was one of the best I've ever taken. One of the many nuggets of wisdom that he offered (which I'm paraphrasing): when you're putting aside your writing at the end of the day, don't let your stopping point be right before a tough spot; that will make it harder to start up the next day. I learned so much from his class and that's just one tidbit, but I think it's like an object in a side mirror, being larger than it appears. Isn't it so much easier to slip back into your story when you're having fun and not feeling tortured? Or rained on?
I remember hearing two authors offer examples of how they get themselves into a writing mood. I wish I could remember who they were so I could identify them--I remember what they said quite well. One said he reads a few pages of something that is beautifully written by an author he admires. This inspires him. The other said he goes to the computer at the same time each day, and it's like he has an appointment with his characters. Something about it being habitual makes his characters come to him and gets his writing juices flowing at the same time, every day.
As for me, I try and follow all three examples of how to make it easy to jump back into my story whether the forecast in my mind says sunny and clear or stormy with a risk of flash floods.
Do you have any tips to offer that can get us through the rainy season? How do you get yourself motivated when you wake up feeling less than inspired?