When I'm feeling blue, I don't want to write. I don't want to do anything writing related, either. I just want to sit on the couch, eat peppermint patties and caramels, take a nap, then sip coffee and watch the Food Network.
As the seasons change, our writing habits change, too. It’s human nature. We’re not robots! Plus, where I live, the short, frozen days of winter stretch into long days full of sunshine and heat. I want to be out in all that sun!
Back in April it seemed reasonable to set difficult goals for June, July and August. But I’ve got a dozen years of writing under my belt, and I wasn’t falling for my overly-optimistic silliness this time. You see, I’ve made my share of mistakes planning out my summer writing schedule, and I’ve learned from them.
5 Mistakes Writers Make in the Summer
- Overestimating what can reasonably be accomplished in three short months.
- Neglecting the work-in-progress as seasonal delights beckon.
- Forgetting to factor in vacation time when setting goals.
- Thinking of writing as optional instead of essential.
- Trying to maintain the same writing schedule as the rest of the year.
Let’s look at these more in depth.
Overestimating what can reasonably be accomplished in three short months.
While June through August technically has thirteen weeks, those thirteen weeks are not equal to the ones in the fall, winter or spring. Yes, technically the hours add up the same, but we all know summer is different. You’ll have weddings and graduation parties to attend. Weekend adventures and farmer’s markets will distract you. Maybe you’ll get away for a vacation or two. Then there will be family time. An outing to pick blueberries. You might have children at home. Whatever your situation, summer brings wonderful things we SHOULD enjoy. So go ahead, set some goals, but don’t overestimate what you can get done.
Neglecting the work-in-progress as seasonal delights beckon.
Unless you’re deliberately taking time off–a week, a month, or the entire summer–you’ll want to continue working on your book. Be careful not to let day after day go by without working on your project at all. You’ll be left with a nagging sense of guilt and you won’t want to get back into it. Even if you snatch fifteen minutes here and thirty minutes there, you’ll be better off than neglecting it completely.
Forgetting to factor vacation time when setting goals.
I’m guilty of this every year! That’s why I keep my phone’s calendar and my day planner handy when I’m sketching out each month’s goals. I often allot extra vacation time each month on the off-chance something fun comes up I won’t want to miss. To do this, I increase my daily goals (higher word count when writing, higher page count when revising). This helps me to stay on track with my projects and enjoy the summer.
Thinking of writing as optional instead of essential.
Not everyone can or should write during the summer. But if you’re reading this post, you’re probably working on a book right now. In that case, ask yourself how you’ll feel if you have very little to show for your writing when September rolls around. If you go into each day believing writing is essential, you’ll be amazed at what you get done by the end of summer. But if it’s another “optional” item on your daily to-do list, you’ll be disappointed in the fall.
Trying to maintain the same writing schedule as the rest of the year.
From September through May, I LOVE my block schedule. It works for me. It makes sense. And it allows me to work on multiple projects every day while putting the most effort into my top priority.
But then summer comes around, and in the morning, I want to enjoy my coffee and watch the birds for a while. By late afternoon, I’m ready to stretch out on a lounge chair and soak in the rays. I have no desire to work on multiple projects throughout the week. I want to focus on the most important one and forget all the others.
So that’s what I do.
I purposely shorten my days to work fewer hours in the summer. This allows me to truly enjoy all that summer offers and still meet my deadlines. Then in the fall, I get excited to resume my more hard-core schedule. It’s nice to have a break from it for three months!
What mistakes do you make in the summer? What did I miss?
Have a terrific day!