The summer solstice is upon us, and Carve wants your sunny season writing to be teeming with genius and spontaneity. Many celebrated authors have recognized the summer’s potential for being mysterious and youthful; think of Scout wandering around a sultry Alabama in Harper Lee’s timeless To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s a time of year reserved for adventure, reflection, and perhaps an unlucky farmer’s tan. So whether you’re drafting a novel manuscript or letting your stream of consciousness flow on a lazy afternoon, here are some easy suggestions to get the most out of your writing during the dog days—goose quill is, as always, optional.
1. Read, read, stop, and then read some more.
Heaps of novels are released in the summer. The Millions has graciously compiled a list of 2013’s anticipated titles. Reading is the writer’s most indispensable tool. When you’re not focusing on your own work, study how other authors develop their craft. You can’t expect to write poignant narratives, without first assessing how others do it. Like pen and paper, a book can be taken with you anywhere. Explore the words of an author or genre you’ve never indulged before. Ideas frequently come from curious and unexpected sources.
2. Sacrifice your laptop for a composition notebook.
The perks of doing your writing on a computer are undeniable. You can churn out sentences quickly, while revising them with ease. Nonetheless, computers inhibit workflow just as much as they inspire it. If you’re one of those people who often find themselves distracted by overflowing inboxes or social media sites, try writing in a notebook. You won’t have to worry about interruptions, and you may find that your work has more clarity when completed with a pen. Novelist Richard Ford once said he enjoys writing longhand because, “I can type faster than I can think, you know.”
3. Location really is everything.
Each writer is used to working in his or her own familiar space: the corner of a library, the window seat at a local café, in bed with the shades ominously drawn, and so on. We come to rely on these spots for creativity, but that can grow stale over time. If you want to breathe new life into your work, you have to seek out fresh perspectives. Abandon that trusty perch for something more unknown. If you’re fortunate enough to be traveling, take the notebook from step two along with you.
4. Ask for feedback from people you place confidence in.
Friends and family always seem to be around more once June comes arrives; cookouts and vacations are planned, universities let out, and we generally just yearn for activity after the grueling winter. Take advantage of having your loved ones around, because now and again they make the best editors. The revision process can be wrought with insecurity, but it’s not as formidable when done with someone close to you. Just try to avoid poolside discourse—one stray splash and your masterpiece turns into a Jackson Pollock painting.
5. Take the plunge and submit your work.
Finally, the summer is the ideal time for sewing up those drafts you’ve been scrutinizing for months. Many university journals and other publications will be pursuing pieces for their forthcoming autumn issues. While writing is truly rewarding in itself, there’s nothing more validating than seeing your words in print. Plus, sometimes writers need deadlines. Start with Carve, perhaps, or research magazines and contest deadlines on NewPages.com.