Strategies for Getting Over the Mid-Summer Writing Slump

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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.

Strategies to Maintain a Consistent Writing Practice during the Summer

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With summer just around the corner, the weather is heating up. Little by little, COVID restrictions are loosening up in many parts of the country. Like most people, writers are eager to get out to enjoy the season.

Along with the summer comes changes in schedules. The school year ends, families go on vacation and some businesses offer summer hours to allow employees time off. Everyone everywhere is in a more relaxed state of mind. They’re eager to enjoy the season, more so this year than in the past because of what we’ve all been through with the pandemic. Things may be so relaxed, in fact, that activities you were so diligent about – such as a regular writing practice — may slack off.

Is it possible to maintain a consistent writing practice while enjoying summer vacation? The answer to that is yes. You just may have to make some adjustments to your schedule.

If you’ve been diligent about writing every day (or almost every day), you probably want to keep momentum. It might help to have a plan for maintaining your writing during the active summer months, so you don’t lose track of your writing goals.

Now is the best time to develop strategies to maintain your writing practice, no matter what the summer holds for you. If writing is important to you, you won’t want to let it slide. If you already have a consistent practice, you’ll be more motivated to keep writing through the summer months.

Here are a few ideas for maintaining a summer writing practice.

Start your writing session earlier. With the sun rising earlier in the day, you have more daylight to play with. Why not use that daylight to your advantage? Rise a half hour earlier and begin writing when you wake up. Even if you already write for an hour a day, by starting a half hour or hour earlier, you’ll get your session done sooner and you’ll have more of your day to spend doing as you wish.

Condense your writing sessions. If you’re really stretched for time or you prefer to use the time to spend with your kids or your friends, you can shorten your sessions. Instead of writing for two hours (if you’re lucky) write for an hour. If you write for an hour a day, cut back to a half hour. You’re still writing every day, and you’re still making progress toward your goals. You’re just doing it at a slower pace.

Write in multiple short sessions. Another option is to write in short blocks of time, such as fifteen minutes. But schedule them throughout the day. So rather than write for an hour in a single session, break up that hour in four 15-minutes sessions. If all you have are little breaks throughout the day, use them to your advantage. You’d be amazed at how much you can accomplish in 15 minutes. Check out my blog post about this topic.

Give yourself an occasional day off (or two). Sometimes you need to take a break from writing altogether. Summer vacation is a prime time to do that. If you’ve been working on a tight deadline or writing every day without a break in between, treat yourself to a couple of days off. You’ve earned it. You’ll come back to your writing with fresh eyes. Just be sure not to keep extending your break for too long or you will lose momentum.

Focus on non-writing tasks instead. There’s more to writing than putting words down on paper. Other aspects, such as research, interviewing subject matter experts, outlining and developing character sketches, are just as important. But sometimes they can be relegated to the back burner until we have to deal with them. Even daydreaming and people watching can be counted as non-writing tasks if they lead to story ideas and developing character descriptions and plot lines.

Capture experiences right away. Remember to carry a small notebook with you as you go about your day. You may notice something in your environment or experience something special that you want to capture while it’s fresh on your mind.

Make yourself accountable. If you don’t want to slack off too much, tap into your community of writers. Reach out to a mentor or writing buddy when you feel your motivation is lagging. Better yet, team up with them to write once a week in a coffee shop or at the beach. When you know someone else is along for the ride, it’s easier to keep on the path.

It’s tempting to let your writing slide during the summer months. By planning ahead and establishing a regular routine, even if it’s different from your non-summer schedule, you can make progress toward your writing goals.