Writing Through the Dog Days

Where I live in Oregon, a heat wave is on the way. It’s supposed to reach one hundred and eight (108!) this week, similar to the temperatures of many of my childhood summers, growing up in Phoenix, Arizona. Air conditioning is everywhere in AZ, but not in Oregon. What’s a writer without AC supposed to do?

Writing tip for Today: When you’re dripping sweat from the tip of your nose, think about these things:

Have Laptop, Will Travel

The most obvious solution to a hot stuffy writing space is to pick up and go somewhere cool. Local libraries, fast food restaurants or community centers almost always have climate-controlled spaces where you can grab a corner chair and write during the hottest part of the day. If you need total silence to be writing, get some noise cancelling headphones or listen to instrumental music as you sit alone in a crowd.

Be a People Watcher

Unless you are on a writing deadline, consider going on a research trip to the local mall, the library or some other air-conditioned public place. Take your laptop, tablet or pad and pen and observe folks as they come and go. Write down snippets of dialogue, describe looks or facial expressions and imagine what’s going on inside these strangers’ heads. I find this activity to be fun as well as creative as I pair stories with people’s behavior.

Set the Mood

If you’ve ever seen the Twilight Zone episode where, when the temperatures rise in a big city, people go berserk and start killing each other, then you realize the power a heat wave has over us humans. Sweltering temperatures play an important role in movies such as “In the Heat of the Night,” in countless westerns and even in the movie classic, “Lawrence of Arabia.” Think about your current work of fiction. Could you add drama and depth by cranking up the temp? There’s something about a sweaty brow that intensifies drama. And if you can’t use a heat wave in your fiction, find a shady spot and read that book you’ve been meaning to get to. Just be sure to bring along an ice-cold drink. Gotta stay hydrated, ya know, during the Dog Days of summer.

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About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

2 comments on “Writing Through the Dog Days

  1. Linda, interesting comment about people watching. I often will write (in my mind) a description of people I see. I will also sometimes use that description of a character in one of my stories.

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