30 Fabulous Things for Beach Girl Writers to Do This Summer: A Month of Creative Fun
by Kerri Buckley
…..Summer is upon us and savvy girls who write have the most fun! Reinvent your writing life. Set new goals; act as if you’re already the author you’ve always wanted to be. Fill your best beach bag with sunglasses, sunscreen, water bottle, gel pens, legal pads, journals, dictionary, and thesaurus. Grab your low-fat latte and head for the nearest beach or out-of-the-way spot across town that makes life feel like a vacation. Change your writing life a little—or a lot!
1. Set summer goals. Commit to write five pages a day on your novel or a query a day if you’re a freelancer. Write your morning pages or journal every day because it helps your other work flow. Consider setting a reading goal, such as one book on the craft of writing per month and one literary fiction selection. Make a list of summer classics that you’ve always meant to dive into.
2. Retreat with Mrs. Ramsay in To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf.
3. Change your writing spots for one month. Try several different coffeehouses throughout the week: the beach, a park, an overlook, the ferry, or anywhere else that inspires you. Try a sophisticated piano bar that plays classical and jazz in the afternoon, or find an outdoor cafe. Pay attention to the differences at each location. Note where you feel most elegant, most romantic, most connected to nature, and most talented. Each place will give your writing a different flavor.
4. Read On Writing Well by William Zinsser.
5. If you’re a freelancer, plan your articles and queries six months ahead. Prepare for December, January, and February publication.
6. Get lost on the moors with Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.
7. Fully utilize your local bookstore. Find the bestseller lists. Check out the Book Source recommendations. Sign up for newsletters and read the latest reviews. Talk to booksellers. Attend free or low-cost events.
8. Enter at least one contest this summer. Check The Writer’s Market, sign up for Writer’s Digest online newsletter, or check out www.newpages.com/NPGuides/litmags.htm to get the latest competition updates.
9. Plan a weekend writing getaway. Pick your favorite nearby spot and write nonstop the entire weekend. Eat exotic food. Dress and act as if you already are the famous author you want to be.
10. Absorb Stephen King’s On Writing.
11. Pick your five favorite novels of all time. Put them all in a stack in front of you. Spend an evening jotting down the similarities, what you love about all of them, how the styles and voices differ, etc.
12. Escape with The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway.
13. Frequent one book signing a month. Talk to the author afterward. Network and learn.
14. Summer is great for volunteering at your favorite literary events. Planning is now underway for Bumbershoot Literary Arts and Richard Hugo House events. Volunteering is an inexpensive way to brush up on skills and to meet other people who are interested in the same things you are. If you can swing the time, you’ll enrich your life and find yourself in network heaven!
15. Attend a summer writer’s conference. It will energize you, your writing, and your career. In the Pacific Northwest there are a variety of conferences to choose from such as:
* Centrum’s Port Townsend Writer’s Conference (July)
* Clarion West Science Fiction and Fantasy Workshop in Seattle (July)
* PNWA Summer Writer’s Conference in Seattle (July)
* Ashland Writer’s Conference (July)
* Portland State University Haystack Writing Program (July)
* Tin House Summer Writers Workshop in Portland (July)
* Willamette Writers Conference in Portland (August)
Don’t forget to at least consider The International Women’s Writing Guild’s Summer Conference at Skidmore College in New York. Check out www.shawguides.com for more listings.
16. Study and analyze Donald Maass’ Writing the Breakout Novel.
17. Set aside some time to plan a year’s worth of grant writing for your own projects. Check out these websites for more information and a good beginning to find funding:
* arts.endow.gov www.neh.gov/grants
* www.nasaa-arts.org www.fundsforwriters.com
18. Build a great, low-cost website at www.authorsguild.com.
19. Revisit Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s treasure Gift from the Sea.
20. Join one writer’s organization. Consider the International Women’s Writing Guild, The National Association of Women Writers, Richard Hugo House, Willamette Writers, PNWA, or The Author’s Guild.
21. Use a few summer hours to teach a writing class. If you’re not comfortable with teaching a professional class, scale it down to writing with kids at the local library. Make it fun for you; do something different. Consider something new, like writing fairy tales or teaching sentence structure in play form. Remember Richard Bach’s line from Illusions, “We teach best what we most need to learn.”
22. Allow yourself to be mesmerized by Virginia Woolf’s The Waves.
23. Submerge yourself in Creating Unforgettable Characters by Linda Seger.
24. Take a mini Internet vacation and surf online for sites by women writers. Most also have newsletters. Here are some great places to start:
25. Investigate James N. Frey’s How to Write a Damn Good Novel.
26. Practice writing short stories (2,500 words), short short stories (1,000 words), and one-sentence stories about the thrills, delights, or sorrows of this summer season. The shorter versions force us to contemplate the precise words and are great exercises in discipline, word crafting, and delivery.
27. Network with other women writers. Have a great brunch and honor a woman writer. Hand out recipes from cookbooks by women authors, host a tea with poetry readings by or about women poets, have a jazz reception. Form a women’s reading group.
28. Analyze Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee. Novelists, as well as screenwriters, use this book for all the great advice it gives.
29. Write your success story for the summer as if it has already happened. Visualize and write every detail you envision about success. Picture your career taking off to new levels, meeting the perfect agent, or beginning a new novel. Put it away until the fall and then get it out and re-read.
30. Plan ahead for next summer. Investigate writing retreats and fellowships. Start applying now for next year. Check out these websites on fellowships and retreats: