I enjoyed my summer. I mean I REALLY enjoyed my summer. From nights with friends at outdoor cafes, to running along the lake, to four great days at Lollapalooza and Shakespeare in the Park, I did it all. I found an outdoor fitness center and mastered the rings and parallel bars (still working on the pull ups- they’re so difficult!) while in beautiful Lincoln Park and rode my bike along the lake to get there. I joined a Thursday night golf league at Chicago’s public Waveland Golf course along Lake Michigan, took vocal lessons at the Old Town School of Music and danced Salsa in Millennium Park. Most of what I did was low cost or free-though the league, Lolla and the lessons were fee based, they were group activities and I thought a good value.
And interestingly enough, my writing seemed to benefit from it all. I always have ideas on what I’m going to write, premises for future books, and snippets of dialogue or action that I write down, but this summer they flowed even more, and I chalk it up to the fact that I was mixing it up in real life as well as in my fiction.
Usually I start a season with good intentions and ideas of what I want to do and most of the time I accomplish half of my wish list because work and life seems to take over. Or I’ll learn of something too late to take advantage of it. This summer I managed it all, and I put it down to one key change in my habits. I spent time with my calendar and input each event months in advance.
It started in California. I was there to write and meet with friends and work colleagues, and I happened to pick up a book a friend recommended about The Bullet Journal Method. I realize I’m a bit late to the Bullet Journal thing, and I don’t follow it closely, but I did like a lot of the ideas it gave. If you haven’t read this book by Ryder Carroll, I think it’s worth checking out. Not only does it give tips about how to work a planner, it also suggested putting in future plans, dreams, and a list of concrete activities.
After I read it I sat down in April with my planner and my laptop and surfed the Chicago sites for free or low cost activities in the summer. I checked the Park District website and the Shakespeare and free movies in the park. I’m lucky to live in a large city with parks and the means to offer these activities, but I also realized that merely having these things available was not enough if I didn’t learn of them and incorporate them into my day to day schedule. I wrote it all down and when the time came I dutifully headed out to the event. It was all so much fun.
But now it’s time to gear up for fall, so this week I’m doing the same thing-reading new books on how to stop procrastinating and checking out the sites and deciding what I want to do while the weather turns. For the procrastination end I picked up Eat That Frog! 21 great ways to stop procrastinating and get more done in less time by Brian Tracey. This, too, is an excellent and easily readable book with great tips.
This Fall and Winter I want to ice skate at Maggie Daley Park, keep up with the vocal lessons, add some more dance lessons, attend the concert with rap artist Dessa at Thalia Hall in Chicago and see the new play: The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and a follow up to their wonderful Miss Benet: Christmas at Pemberley. The play is once again at the Northlight Theater in Skokie, a suburb of Chicago. It should be great fun for the Christmas season.
I’m also teaching a class at Story Studio on How To Query Agents (I was picked up from the slush pile, so I know the pain of the process) on September 11th, and heading to Dallas for the Bouchercon Conference for mystery fans at the end of October.
And finally, I’m reading about my favorite subjects: creativity and writing. For this I’m checking out Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert. I haven’t started yet, so I’ll report on it later, but it has wonderful reviews and takes a practical approach to the creative process. I’m looking forward to it.
That’s it! While I’m always a little wistful as Labor Day approaches, this year I’m looking forward to fall and the opportunities it presents.
I would love to hear what you’re up to and any tips or books you can recommend and for those who celebrate it:
Have a wonderful Labor Day holiday weekend!