Happy Labor Day (to everyone in the US)! The last “official” day of summer, I guess. Back where I come from (there was a song in there, somewhere) today is the last that beaches and pools are open and all of the lifeguards get to go back to their normal lives. Me, I get a long weekend and an extra day off to do whatever I want.
What do you do when you get the magical bonus of a long weekend? Lounge around? Entertain family? What are you doing with your extra days off? The holidays are coming (Halloween is coming! I can’t wait!)
Why not make part of your bonus days off a little more productive. I’m not saying bury yourself in writing. That may or may not be the most productive use of your time. Many holidays have festivals and events that go along with them. This weekend, for example, was the Disneyland Half Marathon. Now, I didn’t get in on THOSE festivities, but I’m sure there are many other places to get into trouble if I look hard enough.
If you are going to be out and around on extra day off, why not try to catch some interesting conversation bits that you might not catch any other time? Grab details on settings that might be fleeting and elusive. Don’t forget, you may have your phone with you and you can send yourself a text message or you can use apps on a smart phone. Capture details that you might be able to use later. Snap a few pictures that might not be what you would ordinarily take wherever you are, something that might bring back the setting or might just be interesting. At the mall? Grab a shot of the food court or an interesting store. See a few interesting people (I live in a place where three town are renown for being Weird, Unusual and “between a rock and a weird place”, there are always interesting people). Homeless guy? Panhandler that has a unique angle (juggling maybe or break dancing). Capture it. File it away (organize your digital files so you can easily retrieve things).
You may not need the information now, but you never know when it might come in handy. You may, one day, need to put one of your characters in a family picnic or a beach party, you may want to set a backdrop to something.
Make use of whatever time you have and whatever place you may find yourself. If you can’t use it now, squirrel it away somewhere. You may, one day, be glad for the little details you ferreted out when you were enjoying your down time!
Let me preface this with the fact that I’m a geek. I love technology and use it to help me whenever I can.
So, I was helping my son last night with the first day of his new job. He has started working for a company that puts those annoying fliers on the door of your house. Apparently there are a lot of people who work at doing this, part time. They hire on a daily rate. But when they don’t send you out until lunch time, you start to run into the evening hours trying to get done. So, last night, I helped him finish up his last housing area.
As I walked, I lost myself in soaking up the atmosphere of the housing area we were in. It was incredibly rich with sensory input. The houses lent themselves to places a character might find himself or where one might find herself at some point in the plot. There were sounds and smells and colors and textures that were too fresh and concrete to miss out on. But I had an arm load of fliers in one hand and my purse doubling as a tote bag for the rest of the fliers on my back. I didn’t have time to really stop to take notes, even if I had been carrying my journal and my pen with me (which I wasn’t).
I realized I had my phone. It’s a smart phone. I remembered that people say that there is no excuse for not taking pictures on the spur of the moment when you are out because all phones, now, have a camera built right in. And I remembered that mine also has notepad built right in (that synchs to the cloud so even if I got hit by a truck I would have the notes on another device) and a voice recorder. So as I went, I took pictures. I recorded voice notes. I stopped under trees to catch my breath and took quick notes in text format. I used what I had at hand to capture the moment.
Sometimes it isn’t about being in the perfect place to write, but writing in the place that you find yourself.
I also have come to realize that, given the fact that I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and that there are days that I don’t feel up to carrying my journal with me everywhere, I always have my phone. I always have my apps. And it is the perfect tool to allow me to get in a little extra writing when I’m out and about and have some time to take some time. I can be gentle with myself and still feel productive and in touch with myself by using what I can use in ways to fit my life. And I don’t have to spend a small fortune, I can use the apps that are built in or that are free to make do.
It’s important to come to terms with where you are in your writing adventure and make use of the tools that help you with your walk