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How I’m Making Writing Work This Summer
I have always struggled with disruptions to my routine. My dedicated writing hours during the school year dwindle to snatched minutes with the kids home for summer. My kids aren’t even young! It’s just different having them home. They have places to be, stomachs to feed and various activities during the day and at night.
Taking the summer off from writing is not an option. In fact, scaling back in the summer horrifies me. I have goals, and by golly, I will meet them!
Here’s how I’m making writing work this summer.
1. Set the alarm.
I refuse to get up at 6:15am the way I do all school year, but 7:30 works just fine. This gives me quiet time to sip my coffee, read the Bible and pray before hitting the office.
2. Accept that the days will be chopped up.
This week my son had baseball activities two mornings and two nights. Both kids had running club. My daughter is in charge of getting to her own activities, but I still plan my writing around their schedules.
3. Set daily, weekly and monthly goals.
I set the monthly goal first, then break it into weekly goals. I look ahead at my calendar to figure out how to meet the weekly goals before setting daily goals.
4. I track my progress.
Last week I plotted a romance novel and wrote the synopsis for it. I also fleshed out two chapters of a nonfiction book in progress. This week I plotted another romance novel. I’m writing the synopsis this afternoon. I also spent hours researching and wrote two chapters. All the little tasks you do add up, but if you don’t track them, you might miss the feeling of accomplishment you deserve.
5. Switch tools.
My romance novels are strictly laptop only. I do everything there–plotting, research, drafts, revising. However, I work on short stories and nonfiction using Google Docs. Believe it or not, I do a lot of writing on my iPhone at odd places. Waiting in the car for baseball practice? Write a few paragraphs. Sitting on the couch at night with nothing on TV? Draft another chapter. Switching tools has made a HUGE impact on my productivity. It’s given me the freedom to make progress on pieces I’d been putting off.
6. Let go of guilt.
My family understands that writing is my job. We don’t have special activities every day. My daughter drives and makes her own plans. My son’s friends live nearby, and he can walk or ride his bike to see them. We take advantage of the fun things our area offers, but not constantly. If my kids are bored, oh well. Life is what you make it. What better time to learn this than as a teenager?
7. Take breaks and get enough rest.
If I’m exhausted in the afternoon, I enjoy a cup of tea and rest on the couch, or I might take a brief nap. Exercise has become vital for me. All the sitting takes such a toll on our bodies. Even a 10 minute walk makes a big difference to my body. Rather than cramming writing in all at once, I set mini-goals throughout the day.
8. Enjoy life.
Summer is the best! I love having my kids home, a less-stressful schedule, hot days, yummy summer food and outside time. I dream more in the summer. I read more, too. I don’t want to remember these precious weeks as being perpetually stressed out, so I try to approach each day with a good attitude. Whatever I get done is enough.
We’re all at different stages of life, with different responsibilities. You may have a full-time job, a part-time job, toddlers at home, no kids, a sick loved one–I don’t know! What works for me might not work for you, but that’s the point. You have to find how to make summer writing work for you. I’d love to hear how you do it!
How do you make summer writing work for you?
**There’s still time to enter the giveaway of Keli Gwyn’s historical Christian romance, Family of Her Dreams. Click on her post HERE and leave a comment before midnight Saturday, June 13 to be entered! US residents 18 and older only.
Have a terrific weekend!!
This Post Has 10 Comments
I really needed this today, Jill. Thanks for laying it all out.
Oh I hear you, Dana!! It’s so easy to slip into guilt mode where you get nothing done, your kids still aren’t happy (nothing is ever enough!!), and you want to cry at the end of the day. No thanks! I don’t mind taking off now and then, but I can’t afford an entire summer. Plus, I love writing too much!
These are very helpful tips, Jill! Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom from experience. Hugs!
I think everyone struggles with new routines when the seasons change! And summer brings so many fun things to do–I never want to be all work and no play. 🙂
My son is finishing up first grade. I’m not entirely sure HOW I’m going to make this summer work, but I do have to finish up a manuscript, so I will certainly have to. So far, I have a schedule for the important things my son and I need to do daily, and then a nice big chunk in the middle where he can play and I can work. I can guarantee there will be a lot more TV watching (by my son) than is entirely healthy, but you do what you have to do!
Patricia, having young kids underfoot is hard on a writer! Yes, we love the little darlings, but they need so much supervision and attention. If an extra hour of television helps you meet your deadline, I say go for it! I certainly have!!
Jill: You have some very good points. I like the one that says you recognize that you will have interruptions. It has taken me a long time to realize that.
In a perfect world, we would have hours and hours of uninterrupted time. We do not live in a perfect world! That’s okay. I’ve gotten better about going with the flow. I think tracking my progress has helped me the most with this. If I have proof I did get something done that day, I feel better about life!
I have always been inspired by your goals and sticking to them! I tend to have more writing time in the summer as more energized by the sunshine and long days!
Thank you, Lynn! It’s funny how the seasons affect our writing. I get a lot of writing done in the fall!