Writing Through the Dog Days of Summer


“The ultimate inspiration is the deadline.”Steve Karmen

So begins the Dog Days of Summer! These are the days a writer’s fancy turns to beaches, cool clothes, cold drinks, travel and vacations. It’s hot and you just want to sit back and chill. In the heart of summer, we all know it’s increasingly difficult to write.

Discipline is still the key to keeping up the writer’s life during the summer months. There’s no way to get away from the trappings of summer. I get it. You can’t fight it, so don’t. It need not be an either or situation. As long as you fall back on your discipline and trust your training, you’ll be able to write during the summer. You don’t have to write every day. But do engage with your writing every day. That means do some plotting, or some outlining, or some character backstory, or read a book that is similar to what you’re writing. Go to the beach, drink those cold adult beverages, go on vacation and travel the world. Chill out in your favorite beach chair and bring your notebook or laptop with you. While travelling, write about what you’re seeing. Record your experiences. But always remember to at least engage with your writing.

Sadly, I didn’t follow my own advice. My wife and I went to Montreal for the Memorial Day weekend. We met up with some friends of ours, a married couple from Chicago. A great time was had by all. Biking through Old Town and along the canal was awesome. Eating poutine at La Banquise was super cool. Travelling on the Metro was good clean fun. Montreal was and is a great way to experience a little bit of Europe in the Western Hemisphere.

But I didn’t write at any time I was there. I should have. But I wanted to focus on spending time with my loved ones and taking in the sights and sounds of the city. For this reason I will not beat myself up about it. Next time I will try harder.

Meeting with my writing group has become more difficult during these summer months as well. Last summer we were in writing class together. Postponements due to travels to Asia and Europe and visits from out of town family members have been prevalent. We all have lives outside of writing so we simply must grin and bear it. If you can write during these events then more power to you. If you can’t that’s okay too. But you should at least try. One member of the Climbing Ivies of Blackrock wrote a revision for part of her novel while flying back to the U.S. from Japan! It can be done, folks!

A lot of life happens in the summertime. It’s hard to stay dedicated and disciplined. We must do our best to maintain our writer’s life. But if we can’t it is understandable. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Acknowledge what happened or didn’t happen, then rededicate yourself to not only writing on a regular basis but building up the grit needed to carry on.

The Climbing Ivies of Blackrock Writing Group



Safe Spaces


It’s been a long time since my last post. I know. I know. But I’m back, Baby! So let’s get on with the topic of where to write.

Every writer has and needs a place to write. It would be awesome to mimic a rolling stone and set up shop wherever you may be. But the reality is that’s just not the case for most of us. We need that place, dare I say that safe-space, where we can quietly concentrate, contemplate, and be our truly creative selves.

Some people make fun of the concept of the safe-space when referring to its original concept, which is:¬† an autonomous space for individuals who feel marginalized to come together to communicate regarding their experiences with marginalization, typically on a university campus. I’m not using the term in that way.

What I’m referring to is that place where the writer can go and be free of distraction and outside influence. Typically, this is your favorite spot to write like in your home office, at your local cafe, the backroom of a library, maybe by a lake, a porch, a diner, on the beach, or on the grass at the park. Wherever you find that place that allows you distraction-free creative work, that is your creative safe-space.

Now if you don’t have one, then you need to get yourself one. Your creativity will jump by leaps and bounds, I assure you. I have a home office that I share with my wife. I have an expensive high-back office chair that’s pretty comfortable (I’ve fallen asleep in it) and my computer desk is at a proper height that it doesn’t literally cramp my style. For the most part, my space has been relatively positive to my writer’s life.

Sharing a writing space can be problematic though. Now I’ve mentioned that I share this home office with my wife. On one side, I’ve got my desk; cluttered, semi-organized and lived in. On the other, she has her desk; neat, clear, everything in its place. When I work at my desk, I like to have Battle Music playing (some call it Epic Music). I find this type of music gets my creative juices flowing. While writing, battle music stimulates my imagination causing to me to picture what types of warriors are going head to head to this soundtrack. My imagination becomes unleashed. So it would follow that Battle Music helps me against writer’s block. Block is that enemy warrior to be defeated utterly! Hard driving and loud, battle music can be disturbing to those around me, so if my wife is in the office with me I’m usually blasting these tunes through my headphones. Even when alone I use headphones. The battle music comes in, the outside world is kept out.

My wife, meanwhile, likes to do her work with the television playing or listening to comedy from¬†Pandora on her Amazon Tap. Whatever gets you through the day, I don’t knock it. And yes we have a television in the home office. Since the home office doubles as our guest bedroom (or vice versa) we’ve provided a television for our honored guests.

For me, of course, television is the Great Distractor. There is much sports, Netflix and CNN that requires my attention. Even if I have my headphones on and I see a television playing, I need to know what it is they’re talking about, so using headphones doesn’t help. When this situation arises, I have been going to the living room or kitchen with my laptop. Unfortunately, both locations are not conducive for writing. Both places provide even more distractions than a home office with two computers and a television would. There’s a wide-screen television, blu-rays, a super-comfy couch, and video games in the living room, while food, drink and yet another television beckon in the kitchen (We have four televisions in our apartment).

On top of it all, my wife requires my attention and affections as well, which while sweet and necessary, still distracts you from your writer’s life.

Distraction is the anathema of creativity as I’m sure you know. So when you get yourself that writing space, guard it with your life. Treat it like a panic room! Guard it against anything and anyone that would violate it. That may mean family members; especially family members since they will most likely be the ones violating your space. Talk to them nicely. and Be sensitive to their feelings, but be direct. Don’t get angry with them. Explain to them what your are trying to accomplish before you start your writing day. And when writing time is done, let them know you are available. This is why you should set an exact writing time so you don’t neglect loved ones.