Your first question may be: What is SIP? It stands for Shelter in Place, a term we didn’t even think about three months ago. These SIP activities are suggestions which may strengthen our writing but are also distracting and perhaps something new and different to do during Covid shutdown.
SIP Activity #1— Try Whispersync– the Amazon app for reading and listening simultaneously. I am a huge fan of this innovation. Nearly all the novels I read are now paired with the Audible book. I just looked at my library and I have 120 books paired with audio. With reading/listening I’ve become so much more sensitive to dialogue and to the movement of the plot. Many users love Whispersync because they can read the ebook and when it is time to cook dinner they just pop in their headphones and continue listening to the story. Whispersync keeps track of where you are and when you go back to your ebook, it is on the page at which you stopped listening. Magic!
I use it differently, almost like a child who is learning to read. I follow the ebook while listening to the narration on the Kindle app on my iPad. Each word is highlighted as I read. Because I read for pleasure very late at night, I used to tune in to an audio book and promptly fall asleep. Now, because I’m digesting the story in two modalities– listening and seeing– I’m totally engaged. And the narrators of good fiction are gifted vocal talents who skillfully change the accents and pacing for characters. I read mostly English historical fiction and it is a joy to listen to my characters the way I’m certain they really sounded. And a Louise Penny book with all the Quebec/French pronunciations. Brilliant. Or Donna Leon and the Venezio dialect– bellissimo!
It’s easy to do and much cheaper than using your $15.99 Audible credits for an Audible book. When you go to the box on the right where you click to buy the ebook, first check the little box under the buy button to add the audio– usually only $7.49 or so as long as you are buying both together. Give it a try and let me know if you love it as much as I do.
SIP Activity #2— Take a notebook and title it Emotions. Or open a new file on your computer for this. Give yourself fifty or seventy-five words a day to describe an emotion you are feeling or one observed by someone close to you while it’s still immediate. Title the emotion: loneliness, thoughtfulness, restlessness, joy, hopelessness, fear, etc. Try to describe it in ways that are fresh but be sure to catch the depth of the emotion. This could be a powerful resource for you in your writing. Often, when writing a character in the throes of an emotion, we fall back on the same old descriptions. Pay attention to physiological symptoms as well. To know that your character’s mouth may go dry when feeling uncertainty or to have your character notice that when she is feeling lonely her skin seems dry and crackly, almost desert-like, takes describing emotion to a new level. You may want to keep adding to this notebook for a long time to come. (And this is not just for novelists. Nonfiction requires the same expressive descriptions.)
SIP Activity #3— Study some of the ways authors are currently publicizing their books. And not just online, but in real time. You might want to make a list of these over time to refer to during your pre-release, release and post-release seasons. It’s hard to know what works and what doesn’t but you will know what interested you, caught your attention. Then come up with something brand new. We know that the first few people who land on a new idea are the most successful and the rate dwindles the more people jump on that bandwagon. You might ask, “What kind of thing do you mean?” Answer: I don’t know. It’s not been done yet. Make your SIP a time for you to dream, to imagine, to come up with an outrageously brilliant idea.
Bonus SIP Activity— Comment down below suggesting a great writer’s activity for these coming Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer.