Here are my top 3 tips for writing during the summer.
1. Every week decide when you’ll write, and create a contingency plan.
June, July and August practically beg us to make spur-of-the-moment plans. That’s why my summer schedule is less rigid than the rest of the year’s. To avoid letting the fun stuff crowd out my writing, every Sunday night I find a comfy spot, grab my day planner and my phone (I keep track of appointments using my phone’s calendar), and I plan my week.
First, I look at all of my commitments. I analyze the best times for me to write. Then I determine alternative times to write if something comes up. This allows me to keep my schedule flexible and still get my writing in.
For example, maybe Monday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings from 7am to 9am are generally a good time for you to write. A less ideal time would be from 4pm to 6pm on Monday, Tuesday and Friday. If a friend invites you to coffee Wednesday morning or one of your kids needs to get dropped off to tennis on Thursday morning, you can shift your writing to the alternate times.
2. Define what you absolutely need to get done and how you’ll achieve it.
If you have a book due in August, you absolutely need to get it done. Other than contracted books, only you can decide if something is an absolute need-to-get-it-done project for the summer.
It’s easy to overestimate how much we can accomplish during the summer, but most people plan vacations, spend more time outside, and have fun activities they can only do during the warm months. Be realistic. Don’t tell yourself you’re going to write two books and a novella in three months.
Once you’ve decided what you need to get done, be proactive and specific to stay on track.
This might look like the following:
I have to write 45,000 more words to finish this draft, and it needs to be finished by July 14. This means I need to write 7500 words per week for the next six weeks.
My work-in-progress is drafted but needs a lot of work. It has 24 chapters. If I revise two chapters per week, I can have it in good shape by the end of August.
At the end of each week, review what you accomplished and adjust your goals accordingly.
3. If you have children at home, be realistic about your writing schedule.
I was a stay-at-home mom for years, and summer was tough. I struggled to fit any writing in. One summer I’d had enough and told myself I either had to take summers off or get serious about working year-round. So I got up early and wrote until the kids woke up. After a short break to make sure they were fed and occupied, I continued to work until lunchtime. The rest of the day I spent with them. This allowed me to make progress on my book and still have plenty of time to go on adventures or hang out together at home.
If your kids are younger, you might have to write when another adult is home or hire a babysitter. If you’re not on deadline, you can always take the summer off. It’s okay. Writing will be there in the fall. If you are on deadline and worried about kids interrupting you every ten minutes, have someone else watch them. Go to a coffee shop or the library—anywhere out of the house—to write.
If you follow the above tips, you’ll find it helps shift your attitude. Writing while your friends are living it up can feel like a sacrifice. On the other hand, all fun and no writing can make you feel guilty.
At the end of the day, we’re writing because we love it. We have stories that need to be told. So set clear parameters around your writing and get more fun into your days. Make ooey-gooey sundaes, lay outside, read a good book, take a long walk. Summer doesn’t last long—make the most of it!
About Jill Kemerer