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Sometimes the well runs dry.

When the days have been hot, and there’s no cloud on the horizon.

When you come home from one trip, with just enough time to do laundry and then repack.

When your office does not yield the missing notebook with the outline of your next project.

When you leave behind your earbuds in one hotel and your sandals in another.

When you haven’t slept in the same bed twice in 10 days.

When you haven’t slept in 10 days.

When gingerbread boys demand entertainment.

When your inbox is closing in on 200 messages.

When cheese and crackers becomes the dinner of choice, because it requires no preparation.

When you begin thinking of summer as a series of destinations and mileage, one suitcase or two.

This is the time for a writer to begin listing. Listing is a simple writing exercise with many uses. A list can help you see things that you might not otherwise see. Patterns become evident when they’re not padded by lots of prose. Looking to develop your character? Make a list ABOUT your character OR from the viewpoint of your character. Uncertain where your plot line is going? List scenes. List action. List plot points. Need to fulfill a word count goal? List.

Lists make me feel like I’ve accomplished something.

Here are my lists for the day:

Where I Went on My Summer Vacation

  • Polar Caves
  • Lost River Gorge
  • Fuller Rose Gardens
  • Hampton Beach Sand Sculpture Competition
  • York Beach
  • One Stop Fun
  • Rumble Tumble
  • Galway Lake, NY
  • Charmingfare Farm
  • Freedom Trail, Boston
  • Christa McAuliffe Planetarium
  • Whale watch
  • Fort Foster, ME
  • The Butterfly Place
  • Darien Lake, NY
  • East Aurora, NY
  • Letchworth State Park
  • Genesee Country Museum
  • Jello Museum
  • SEE Science Center
  • Hershey, PA

While places are somewhat interesting, action is even better.

Things I Did on My Summer Vacation:

  • Spelunking

    Polar Caves

  • Climbed a rock wall
  • Had my face painted in melted chocolate
  • Rode a Ferris wheel
  • Bought a brain jello mold
  • Jumped waves
  • Saw a sunspot AND a solar flare from a telescope
  • Was a human landing pad for butterflies
  • Climbed 294 steps to the top of the Bunker Hill Monument
  • Finished a manuscript
  • Saw hump-backed whales
  • Ran with zucchinis
  • Fed goats
  • Did a full wheel in yoga
  • Listened to the Battle Hymn of the Republic, The Star-Spangled Banner, and Pomp and Circumstance on the piano about a billion times
  • And last but not least, chased a chipmunk and a snake off my porch, but not simultaneously.

If you know me, you might be impressed, because here are some facts about me:

That’s me on the left.

  • I have a bit of claustrophobia
  • Heights make me shaky
  • I hate jello
  • I am squeamish about bugs and swimming in bodies of fresh water
  • I get motion sick
  • I have no sense of direction
  • I have chronic shin splints

Make a list. Find a story.