How to Make the Most or the Least of Your Writing This Summer
Make the Most:
•Set specific times to write. The days seem longer in the summertime, so there’s ample opportunity to allocate time during your day to your writing. Consider two- to three-hour slots. Set up in a cafe, or in a window seat in your house so you don’t feel so shut in. Allow yourself to be inspired by the weather rather than making a list of all the other things you’d rather be doing.
•Get up early. It seems easier to get up earlier when it’s light by 6 am, so try writing in the morning. If you live with roommates or family and you’re craving quiet time, morning can be a huge make-the-most opportunity. Hell, why not try getting up at 5 am? Set your coffee timer and gift yourself the morning.
•Take a writing retreat. This might sound impossible if you have kids to attend to, or if you feel broke. But consider the possibility of going away, even just for a weekend. You can book yourself a weekend in a secluded bed and breakfast, or consider checking out Craigslist listings and see if you might find a housesitting gig. It’s amazing how effective a single weekend of writing can be in jumpstarting your motivation and enthusiasm.
•Make your summertime goals known. Yes, this is a common accountability structure, but you need to tell someone what you hope to accomplish this summer. Maybe you need to finish your book proposal. Maybe you want to write five short stories. Perhaps your goal is to write three chapters of your memoir. Whatever it is, tell someone. Ask them to follow up with you every few weeks for a progress report. It might feel scary, but it’s scarier to think that come fall you might not be a single step further along in your project than you are now—right?
Make the Least:
•Tell yourself you’ll do it tomorrow! A sure way to make the least of your writing is to procrastinate or NOT have set writing days. If you’re telling yourself that a vague “I’ll do it when I have time” schedule is going to work for you, believe me, it won’t. There are always a million better things to do—especially in the summer when you can spend time outside and there are extra little voices in your head beckoning you to step away from the computer. Ignore them! Set your times and stick to them, and then you can indulge your voices on your non-writing days all you want.
•Don’t prioritize your writing. Here’s a fact: There are more important things than your writing. Your relationships, your family, keeping your house clean, your day job. Yes, it all ranks higher on the priority list than this thing that’s your hobby or your passion, I know. So it’s easy to turn to everything else before you turn to your writing. Write out your priority list and see where your writing falls, and if it’s lower than, say, cleaning the bathroom, ask yourself why that is and if there’s any way to bump it up a bit this summer. Maybe with enough practice it will be up on the top tiers by fall.
•Assume responsibility for everything. A lot of us have a ton of things to manage over the summer, particularly those of us with kids out of school. The more involved you get in scheduling and assuming all responsibility, the more of a guarantee it is that September will be here and you’ll have done very little toward making progress with your writing. Each of you will have to handle this particular hurdle your own way, but consider asking for help. Don’t be a martyr. Don’t assume that no one else can handle what needs to be done. If you set aside your two hours, tell your partner or children what you’re doing and allow them to be allies in your goals rather than distractions from them.
•Convince yourself that summer equals rest. If you treat your writing as work or a burden or an obligation that’s hanging over your shoulder, then of course you’ll believe that you deserve a break! If this is true for you, try thinking about your writing differently. Reframe your relationship with your writing this summer and consider all the ways in which it brings you alive. It’s easy to feel lazy in the summer, and to justify that. So think of your writing as something like exercise or eating healthy. It’s easy to feel lathargic and out of it, and sometimes we just need to change our habits a little bit to realize how much our day-to-day doesn’t actually have to feel that way.
So go for it! Make the most of it, and consider the ways your sabateurs might be encouraging you to make the least of it. Happy June. Just days until summer!
Until next time.