The Perils of Writing in the Summer

Disclaimer: I am not a fan of the summer. I prefer spring and autumn. This does not make me a weirdo. It does not mean you can call me grumpy. Only I’m allowed to do that, and I am. It does not make me weird – I have my own brand of weirdness already.

Some people just don’t fare well in heat and all that comes with it. Don’t pick on me for not embracing summer. It’s full of perils for a writer.

The Heat is On

At the time of writing, it is freaking hot out there. I realise this is relative. I’m a Brit so hot is anything where we have to take our cardigans off.

I was not built for heat. That may have something to do with the extra insulation layer I’m trying to shift. You can mock now but guess who’ll be laughing when the snow comes?

Heat makes me unproductive. I feel like I’m wading through treacle when the thermostat rises. I can barely move, let alone write.

In the heat, my brain whirrs like the fan in your computer, threatening to combust. I choose to take a lie-down and let it re-set itself.

Siestas

Perils of Writing in the Summer - napI’d like to say that I’ve adopted another culture in my penchant for afternoon naps when it’s hot. I can’t though.

Other countries work later to make up for time lost. I just wake up, look at the clock, and decide another few minutes will do the trick.

Cue eight hours later when I’m not sure what the hell my body clock is doing anymore. No writing done.

More Daylight

What kind of sorcery is this that says we must have more daylight hours in the summer? More daylight = more guilt about not doing the day job.

There’s something good about it being dark. It means it’s night time, even if it is only 4pm. We must not overwork ourselves and do extra in the evenings, right?

Daylight in the evenings is a cunning minx, devised to make writers get stressed.

Bring back dark afternoons when I could pretend my working day was over.

Hayfever

Perils of Writing in the Summer - pollenI didn’t used to get hayfever. I was sympathetic enough to those who did but wondered why they had to make such a fuss about it.

This year the pollen count has gone stratospheric and I have discovered the hell of hayfever.

No-one, let alone a writer, can do much when your nose is running a river. Scratching like you have scabies doesn’t help either.

I am currently deciding whether I need a scalp and if I scratch any harder what the likelihood of my eyeballs popping out is.

If anyone dares to say that writers usually work inside and shouldn’t suffer from hayfever, I will hunt you down.

That pesky pollen creeps into the cracks and crevices and assaults my nasal passages, skin, eyes, and throat overnight.

Nothing prepares you for your writing day like having a closed up throat and looking like you’ve done a few rounds with Mike Tyson.

I’ve come to the conclusion that lovely as they are to look at, flowers, trees, and grass are ejaculating the devil’s spawn and having a bloody good laugh about it too.

Writing Outside

Yesterday’s spontaneous decision, ‘Let’s go to the beach, do some editing there, and it will be so much nicer than being stuck indoors’.

Yes, it was lovely in a beach type, sea in front of me, kind of way.

Yes, I felt a little smug working on the beach when other people are stuck in offices and the like.

No, not cool to come home and find sunburn patches where the sun cream didn’t go. Why are there always those few spots you miss?

No, not cool to spend most of my times swatting flies away who really love bright white paper. I may have more squashed insects on my manuscript than corrections now. I also swallowed a few but that’s extra protein.

I tried writing in the garden too. I am someone who is a bit crap with noise. I’ve learnt to tune some of it out but why is it, when I go into the garden, the world comes outside and gets really noisy?

I swear my neighbours have cameras trained on my house and are poised to strike when I go outside to work.

Suddenly everyone has a crying baby, even the elderly couple who live alone. The neighbours feel the need to entertain us with their gangsta rap at full volume. Kids decide to play a game of ‘My decibels are higher than yours’.

I go back inside where the world can’t hurt me and I won’t disintegrate. I’m probably a vampire.

Everyone Wants to Do Something

Perils of Writing in the Summer - the sun is outIn Blighty, as soon as a ray of sunshine hits, everyone decides they must be doing something. The ‘something’ must involve large groups of people, including you.

Trips and days out are great for writers, don’t get me wrong. You don’t need to tell me twice to take a rest. Offer me a holiday and my suitcase will be packed in record time.

What makes ‘doing all the summer days out things’ tricky is when you’re on a roll with your writing. Nothing is more complicated than finally hammering out your first draft after suffering chronic writer’s block, only to have your loved ones decide you must  have some organised fun.

You can’t leave your writing. If you stop right now your brain will shrivel, your fingers fall off, and your ideas will go off on their own holiday.

Because you’re a nice person, you go with your family on a hike, to the beach, or something of the like and you smile sweetly throughout. Inside you are waving goodbye to your novel that is leeching from your mind and body every second you’re away from it. But hey, you had fun, right? Right?

Sweating

Perils of Writing in the Summer - glistening sweatThey say ladies perspire and horses sweat. Bull.

I envy those women who walk around in the heat in their floaty, light-coloured chiffon dresses, looking cool and collected.

Not a bead of sweat threatens their foundationed foreheads. Damp patches do not dare to form on their backs, or other more vulgar places. Not even a hint of redness blooms their cheeks.

Who are these women? I have a theory they’re robots, sent to make sweaty birds look bad.

There’s nothing good about having your clothes sticking to you like a second wet skin.

Discovering that even your knees sweat is most troubling.

Slick fingers on keyboards are not conducive to writing.

The Good Parts of Summer

In the interest of balance, summer isn’t always so bad for the writer. Below is a list of why it’s good.

I don’t seize up with the cold as I sit at my desk.

Ice cream tastes better when it’s hot. Who am I kidding? Ice cream is good all the time.

Er. That’s it.

Over to You

What do you not like about the summer? How does the summer hinder your work and productivity, writer or not?

Don’t tell me I’m grumpy in the comments. I already know.

About Lisa Sell

Lisa Sell is a fiction writer and blogger. When not wrestling with words she can be found showing the love for chocolate, cheese, coffee, the cat, and the Husband. Not particularly in that order.

10 comments on “The Perils of Writing in the Summer

  1. I am opposite, I loathe winter and thrive in summer. However that does mean I get much less writing done now. I can’t oil up and write, I can’t float in the pool and write and my gardens are huge, therefore I can’t write. So I stick to writing at night and rainy days are a bonus.

  2. I’m with you when it comes to hayfever. I’ve suffered since my teens and some years are unbearable. This is a very bad year and I’m taking various medicines to help but I’m still snotty and it seems to be the evening when I sit down to write, that the itchy eyes kick off. I so hate the itchy eyes!! But having said that, I am enjoying this summer so far. (I might feel differently when my kids break up from school!!) It feels a bit like the long, hot summers I enjoyed as a kid, when the days seemed to last forever and all the lawns turned brown. I kind of like that. (It’s probably to do with global warming, but I’m trying not to think about that!) I’ve been enjoying walks down the shady lane and paddling in the river. I’m not a beach person, not in the summer anyway. I prefer the wildness of the beach in the winter. But I do love Autumn and Spring. I usually get sick of the summer at some point and long for cooler days again. I’m not at that point yet though!

    1. Oh, you have my sympathy and empathy for the hayfever situation. The evenings are the worst, when all the pollen decides to descend. It’s miserable.

      I don’t hate summer. I actually remember those long summers as a kid, as you mention, and loving them. I like the sun being out and not having to feel restricted when I want to go for a walk or run by foul weather. It’s the heat and the hayfever that do me in!

      I avoid the beach over the summer holidays. Much as we need tourists, it just makes a beach visit unpleasant vying for space, dealing with all the litter they drop, and paying stupidly high prices for drinks from a kiosk. Give me the beach out of season, even on a cold winter’s day anytime.

      Thanks for commenting, Chantelle, and helping me see that I do like some parts of summer!

  3. I live in Texas were the summer does try to kill you. Stepping outside your air conditioned home, is like walking on the surface of the sun with a warm wet blanket wrapped around you. I can understand your pain, you are not grumpy.

  4. I love Summer and the heat. The one problem I do find however is if I try to write outside using my laptop I can’t see a bloody thing due to the sunshining on the screen. I compromise and handwrite my ideas for typing up later though so I do prevail. I just can’t neglect the rare time we get good weather!

    1. No-one can say we haven’t had a lot of hot weather this year!

      It is hard to see the laptop screen outside. Cue trying to find the perfect shady spot for the rest of the afternoon!

      Thanks for commenting, Debbie.

  5. I love the summer in most cases, but it’s quite true that it’s not the writer’s best season (I even wrote a post about it when it suddenly got really hot here in May. Then it got cold. Now it’s hot again, but keeps raining, so it’s just kind of sticky all the time. Yay). I keep wanting to be outside, but writing outside is tricky, and so far I can’t find a really comfortable way to make that work. And my usual go-to for writing a first draft(ish) – curling up in blankets – is really not an option.

    I feel you on the hayfever, too – mine’s okay this year, but sometimes it’s an absolute misery that no amount of anti-histamines seems to touch. But – summer means swimming. And summer fruit. And walking in the late evenings when less people are about. And not having permanently frozen fingers and toes. And being able to wear less than five layers. 🙂

    1. Just between me an you, I do like going for walks in the summer (usually when it’s cooled down a bit) and I like the sun being out. Don’t tell anyone that, though. I have a grumpy image to protect.

      Writing outside sounds great in theory, doesn’t it? The reality usually involves spending hours trying to pick the best spot in the garden.

      Enjoy your summer, Kim!

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