It’s that time of year again. The school house is emptying as teachers put the “teacher is not in” sign up on the door. The books are filed away for another year. Desks are emptied out as students find that elusive book report they never did get credit for, crammed amongst their trinkets and half chewed pencils. Backpacks are filled with everything the kids have stored in the classroom, no ready to be taken home for the parents to sort through and discard as necessary.
The weather has finally figured out its temperament and is staying steady in the high seventies. Any day now the public pools will open, parents will slather their offspring with sunscreen, and position the arm floaties just so in order to keep the kidlets upright in the water.
And we all know what this means for writers.
Summer has come and we must find time to write!
If you’re a writer reading this, relax. I’ve got ten tips on how you can keep writing all through the summer. Some of them might be a bit more creative than you’d like when it comes to your consistent ‘write-during-the-school-hours’ schedule you keep nine months out of the year. You may still find yourself perusing the various school districts searching for the one that just started year round schooling. But remember, even those districts take time off.
What you need to do is fit the summer schedule into your writing schedule.
Not the other way around.
It really can be done. It just takes some determination, creativity (which we know you have!), and planning. –If you’re not usually a planner, you can read more about how to plan for your writing here.
Tip One: While the kids sleep in, you get up early. Set the coffee pot timer (if you don’t have a coffee pot that can do this, I urge you to go out and get one. I got mine on Amazon. It has been a lifesaver. Programmable coffee pots let you get up to coffee freshly made. It’s a miracle. Once out of bed, sneak quietly to your writing spot and get some words in before the kids wake up!
Tip Two: Be willing to relocate your writing spot. This is helpful for all the places you have to go during the summer. What’s that Dr. Seuss book line? “Oh the places you will go”… For the mobile writer, you must be able to get those creative juices flowing regardless of your location. So, you’ll need the following things:
Laptop (or notebook and writing utensil)
A lap desk –these are amazing feats of engineering and rather inexpensive.
An insulated travel mug –whether you like your coffee hot or cold in the summer, this will come in handy.
A plethora of ideas (to write about, of course)
Tip Three: Utilize your surroundings. If you’re anything like I used to be, you find it challenging to write about anything unless you are tucked away in your designated writing space without any interruptions. But I’ve learned over the years that being in a new environment can really get those ideas coursing through my brain. When you’re out and about and have a few minutes to write, choose something (or someone) in your line of sight. Write about it (or him or her or them) for ten minutes. Even if you never use that bit of creativity for anything, it gets your brain percolating and can help you get into the zone.
Tip Four: So you need ten minutes to write, but all the kids are home. They want food and for you to entertain them for hours on end. What do you do? Implement daily movie time. It doesn’t have to be a full two hour movie; it can even be a half hour television show. Sit with them. Pop popcorn for snacking. And pull out your notebook to write while the show is on. If they ask what you’re doing or accuse you of not paying attention, let them know you’re taking notes on the elements of the production. They can join you if they want, but they can’t stop you from doing it. And voila! You’re guaranteed to produce at minimum thirty minutes of solid writing!
Tip Five: Rotate the play date responsibility. *Note: this typically works for writers who have a reasonable number of kids or are willing to separate their litter into small groups.* Find a responsible friend who has kids at or around your kids’ age(s). Schedule a rotating weekly play date or two. On the days your kids go to his/her house, hole up in your writing studio and crank out the words. Reminder: this will only work if you keep to the writing time. No running errands during these allotted play date arrangements. Those errands will be there long after you’re published.
Tip Six: Change your routine. If waking up early during the summer isn’t your cup of tea, morph into the kids’ routine. Do you have night owls for kids? Proclaim the late evening/night hours to be “quiet time” or “independent video game time” or some such thing and at the appointed time, march everyone off to their respective rooms to wind down for the night. You can march yourself off to your room or writing studio and get some words written. Don’t worry about being tired the next day; you’ll all sleep until noon anyway.
Tip Seven: Volunteer to be the co-captain on all family road trips. If you’re not doing the driving, you can write from the passenger seat. Just don’t forget to take your lap desk.
Tip Eight: Participate in the summer library programs with your kids! You can write in the delicious quiet of the library while your kids go to story time or use the internet or read books. As a reward, you can check out books to read later too. It’s a total win-win situation.
Tip Nine: Collaborate with your family on individual summer goals. Maybe your nine year old wants to improve her swim skills. Or your teenager wants to get a summer job. Sit down with your family and discuss those summer goals. While doing so, be sure to share with them your summer writing goals. Maybe you want to do July Camp Nano or you want to finally get that full first draft written. Tell them about it. Support one another and set up a homemade sticker chart to track each other’s’ progress. Then, when you all reach your goals, plan a family bar-b-que to celebrate.
Tip Ten: Change your writing schedule. If absolutely necessary and you are unable to fit your family’s summer schedule around your writing schedule, be willing to change your writing schedule. Family time is essential. It’s a blessed and wonderful thing. It’s okay to modify your writing time or even reduce it to three days a week instead of seven. Don’t feel guilty for making modifications that work well for you and your family. The ideas will be there when school starts again.
Other random, potential ideas for guarding the writing time throughout the summer:
Now get out there and write!