Making Hay Out of a Hurricane

tobo at the time you read this, it may be irrelevant. I’m writing to you on Monday, home from work due to the expected wallop of Hurricane Sandy on our forewarned-but-still-most-likely-unprotected heads, and hoping that I can finish this and send it off before the power inevitably goes out.

But maybe it won’t be irrelevant. The weather forecasters are saying that people in the path of the storm should be ready to be without power for up to a week. With NaNoWriMo starting on November 1, a week without power could be a very bad thing right now.

And bad weather happens all the time. Well, maybe not if you live someplace nice. But even paradise gets rain, wind, and the occasional freak hailstorm. Our job as writers is to capitalize on that inevitability.

Here, then, are some tips for weathering whatever storm Mother Nature sees fit to dump on you:

Prepare for it. Stock up ahead of time on candles, flashlight batteries, propane for the lantern (make sure it’s properly vented!), notebooks, pens, and your favorite libation.

When the power goes out, rejoice. Stores are closed; most modern entertainment sources (for example: TV, Facebook, Angry Birds) require juice. People all around you will be whining that there’s nothing to do. But you, lucky writer, can write, whether the lights are on or not. You might have to write longhand, but it can be done. After all, people were writing books long before there were computers.

Make full use of the electronic-distraction-free time. You can get a lot of writing done if the next episode of your favorite show isn’t calling you away.

Use “I’m writing” to your advantage. If the kids are bored, the dog needs walking, or the significant other is after you to help clean up the mess the storm left in its wake…well…you’re busy writing, right? (Okay, I’ll grant you – that’s rotten. But keep it in your arsenal, just in case. Who knows how long you’ll be housebound after the storm?)

Use the weather as fodder for your work in progress. Stuck for the next plot twist? How about a hurricane? If your book is set miles from any coastal area, stick in a blizzard, or a tornado, or even just a really bad thunderstorm. And don’t forget the tried-and-true device of having unsettled weather match the unsettled emotions your main character is feeling.

I’m sure I could come up with a few more ideas, but I think the lights just flickered, so I’m going to wrap this up now. Just remember, the sun will come out again eventually. You’ll have to type in all those handwritten pages then, but now is not the time to focus on that.

Author: Lynne Cantwell

Lynne Cantwell grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan. She worked as a broadcast journalist for many years; she has written for CNN, the late lamented Mutual/NBC Radio News, and a bunch of radio and TV news outlets you have probably never heard of, including a defunct wire service called Zapnews. But she began as a fantasy writer (in the second grade), and is back at it today. She currently lives near Washington, DC. Learn more about Lynne at her blog and at her Amazon author page.

7 thoughts on “Making Hay Out of a Hurricane”

  1. I hope you made it through unscathed, Lynne. Very good advice. As long as, say, a tree has not fallen through my house, I enjoy the no-juice aspect of power failures. I write and read. And write some more.

  2. Great advice Lynne and I hope you’re managing to write – preferably without storm damage and a blackout! Please let us know you’re ok asap.

  3. Thanks, guys! I try to look at the bright side of most situations — and I have a lot of camping gear. 😉 In any case, alas, we didn’t lose power at all, so no distraction-free writing hours for me…

    1. And on a more serious note, my thoughts are with those — particularly in NY and NJ — who are still cleaning up from the storm, and will be for some time to come.

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