Ever have those days when you simply don’t feel like writing? Funny that those days seem to occur most often during the summer. Blame it on the heat that makes everyone feel lazy. Or the distraction of summer activities – picnics, parties, the beach, outdoor movies in the park. When it’s summer, the last thing you want to do is work. And writing is work.
Conversely, maybe you’re too busy with work assignments and deadlines to squeeze in any pleasurable writing time. Despite my busy schedule, I feel like most days I’m waiting for email responses, interview confirmations and reviewed manuscripts, which make me feel like I’m not getting anything accomplished.
Welcome to summer, where everything and everyone seems to move at a slower pace. Even your writing practice can begin to slow to a crawl.
How do you get back into that creative flow? How do you keep your writing practice going when there are so many summer distractions and obligations to take care of? Here are a few strategies that have worked for me. They might work for you too.
*Shorten your schedule. It might be necessary to shorten the schedule. For example, instead of writing every day, cut back to three or four days a week. If all you can give to your writing is three days a week, then go with that shortened schedule. Then when summer ends and activities slow down, you can always go back to writing every day. The most important thing to remember is to keep to some kind of schedule so you don’t lose momentum or motivation.
* Write in the early morning. If you can’t find the time to write during the day, try writing before breakfast. Many writers swear by this practice. It’s quiet at that early hour before the rest of the world awakes, and you can actually hear yourself think. You might be able to do your best work then.
* Write in the evening. If the early morning does not fit your schedule or appeal to you, try writing after dinner or before bedtime. You might find it more relaxing and it might help you get to sleep.
* Write in short bursts. Sessions of 10 to 15 minutes can help you stay productive. You’d be surprised how much you can get done in that brief amount of time. Check out my earlier post about writing in 15-minute sessions.
* Skip a day or two. It’s okay if you have to cut back on writing time to make room for other activities. Just don’t extend it too long or you might have trouble getting motivated to start writing again. Engage with the outside world and exploring new people and activities. They can only help to enrich your writing.
* Focus on non-writing activities. With less time available, writing may not be practical. Use your time instead to read about the writing craft, do research for your work-in-progress, or study the works of a favorite author.
*Set small goals. Setting smaller goals will feel less daunting and may be easier to achieve. Set a goal for writing one page a day. Or 1000 words a week (or about 200 words a day). By writing one page a day, you can still make steady progress toward your larger writing goal.
If none of these suggestions work, then try this exercise. Close your eyes and imagine your life without any kind of writing at all. What if you never wrote another word again? How would that make you feel?
If you see that your world would be drab and empty without writing, then use that vision as a catalyst for your writing practice. Use it as motivation to keep writing. Even if its the middle of the summer. Even if it’s just a little bit every day. When summer ends, you can jump back into a regular writing practice.