Writers, Get Those Summer Vibes

In the “Summer 2017 Community Spotlight,” LitReactor’s Peter Derk lamented summers. Once the best time of year, now just… hot? And it’s true: unless you lead one of a select few lifestyles, you probably don’t get a whole summer off anymore. But who doesn’t want one? Remember those long, hot, lazy days from when you were a kid? We may never have that purity of freedom again, but not all is lost. Writers can still capture those summer vibes — even when we’re working through the summer (whether that work be a traditional day job or full-time writing). I still love summer, and with a little extra effort and a few tricks, maybe you can too.

Go Outside

I know, I know. It’s hot. There are bugs. Sunburns. Sweat! But you didn’t let those things hold you back when you were a kid, did you? The truth is, the summer heat is only miserable if you fight it or let it hold you back. Instead, embrace it by adding the best heat activities to your work. Why not bring out the laptop to write in a shady hammock? Or do your editing on the porch after work in the coolest part of the evening? Critiquing, reading, writing, outlining…they’re all more special if they’re near a body of water, and the hot months are the best months to chill by the water. And since the evenings stay light so long in the summer, you can take advantage of some poolside writing even after a 9-5. So plan ahead for a Thursday evening and head to the beach (or lake, or pool, or kiddie pool in your backyard…) to get in some writing. Does it hold a candle to full summer freedom? Not a chance. But does it make the summer a little less miserable and a little more special? I think so.

The thing that made summers fun wasn’t just that there was no school; it was that everything was different, shiny, and new for a few months.

Set the Mood with Music

I know that not all writers can work with music going, but if you’re one of the lucky ones who can, it’s the easiest way to set a mood. And yes, relishing summer is a mood. Many avid readers are Amazon Prime subscribers like myself. I recently decided to check out Prime’s free music streaming feature (oh so cleverly titled Amazon Music). It’s kind of like Pandora, but without the annoying ads. You can build your own playlists or choose one of theirs. I’m really digging their station (again, cleverly titled) “Summer Vibes.” Basically fun, easy, relaxed pop with a tendency to mention summer or heat in the lyrics. Don’t have Prime? You can still do the same type of thing on Pandora or even just with your own music.

Switch Snacks

Even if you need silence to work, you’ll have to fuel up to keep the brain firing, yes? Switch to summer snacks! You roll your eyes, but I swear it helps. The thing that made summers fun wasn’t just that there was no school; it was that everything was different, shiny, and new for a few months. We can’t all take three months off, but we can put in the effort to make things feel a little different than The Norm. Popsicles, chilled watermelon, and fruit smoothies all refresh and help beat the heat. Or go for a nostalgic blast from past by buying some of your favorite kid snacks again. No taste brings back summer for me like SunnyD and Goldfish crackers—which, for the record, make the perfect combination and are totally keyboard-friendly!

Make Your Vacation Bookish

Nothing says summer quite like vacation, does it? Why not make your vacation writer-happy? There are libraries pretty much everywhere, and seeing the different types is always fun for book nerds like me. Same for interesting bookstores. Or plan a trip that includes a tour of a literary historical landmark, like your favorite author’s home museum or the locale of your favorite series. And of course, summer vibes for writers has to involve reading. No matter where you go or for how long, take some killer books with you and it’ll be 50% better—even if it’s just during the car ride.

Sneak Your Vacation

If you want to go on vacation but can’t quite justify the expense just for fun, consider taking a trip that doubles as writing work. Depending on which type you take, it might even count as a tax deduction. Research trips, for example, can be incredibly fun! Obviously you’ll want to choose a setting you actually want to visit, or a topic that sends you to a cool place. (Don’t complain to me if you set your next novel in the butt crack of the desert; you could’ve gone to Hawaii.) Or if you’re past the research stage, why not set up your own writing retreat as an excuse to get away? It’ll take a little balancing between work and play, but it’s way better than staying home and whining about the heat.

Make-Believe Your Vacation

Can’t get away just now? I feel you; I'm not getting a vacay this year either. So instead, go there in your mind! Write 

about a cool (or sunny) place you wish you could go, and at least you’ll be there in your headspace. Writers have powerful imaginations, so put it to work. Write a snowy scene so compelling that you shiver even under the sunlight. Or embrace the heat and draft a steamy romance set on the beach. Wherever you go in your mind is where you’ll spend most of your time, after all, so why not make it a destination book?

Get Your Drink On

If all else fails: just add booze. I’m not saying you have to get wasted to enjoy your summer (although it's an option), but drinks, like snacks and music, can certainly help set the mood you want to capture. The trick here is in the choice of booze. Don’t go for your usual whiskey, wine, or martini. Opt instead for an ice cold beer, mixers that use coconut rum, and frozen fruit daiquiris. If it smells like sunscreen, you’re probably doing it right. If you have to dip your hand in ice to pull it out, you’re probably doing it right. And if it has a bright little umbrella in it, you’re definitely doing it right. Ah, summer.

So, writers, have I tricked convinced you to embrace the summer and capture those vibes? Or are you set on staying in the air conditioning 24/7 until fall rolls around? Feel free to share any other ideas you have for soaking up the summer!

Annie Neugebauer

Column by Annie Neugebauer

Annie Neugebauer likes to make things as challenging as possible for herself by writing horror, poetry, literary, and speculative fiction—often blended together in ways ye olde publishing gods have strictly forbidden. She’s a two-time Bram Stoker Award-nominated author with work appearing and forthcoming in more than a hundred publications, including magazines such as Cemetery Dance, Apex, and Black Static, as well as anthologies such as Year’s Best Hardcore Horror Volumes 3 & 4 and #1 Amazon bestsellers Killing It Softly and Fire. She’s an active member of the Horror Writers Association, and in addition to LitReactor, a columnist for Writer Unboxed. She’s represented by Alec Shane of Writers House. She needs to make new friends because her current ones are tired of hearing about House of Leaves. You can visit her at AnnieNeugebauer.com for news, poems, organizational tools for writers, and more.

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Daniel Lewis's picture
Daniel Lewis August 1, 2017 - 5:22am

I agree that all these tricks help in the work. Rest is simply necessary. Even if you work in the summer. Listen to your favorite tracks, eat something from summer snacks, go to the beach or just go somewhere - it all works. This helps you restart thoughts, fill with new energy and work with new ideas. When I write essays like this, I usually get a walk on the pier. I like to do it in the evening. There is usually quiet and calm, which helps somehow relax, calm down and it becomes more pleasant to work.