Summer is almost upon us, and that's not always good news for writers. The summer can be a strange time for productivity and creativity; we tell ourselves that we deserve a break, and we end up wasting the summer months, having a little fun, perhaps, but not keeping our writing habit going. If we're not careful, the summer could slip through our fingers.
Sorry to be such an alarmist, but I've struggled to make good use of summers in the past. It's a strange time for those of us used to being on an academic schedule; we're encouraged in every way to drop the ball and let things go a little until we're once again swamped and rushed in the fall. That's why it's important to establish some hard and fast rules right now. And it's equally important to look at the big picture and think about what goals you'd like to accomplish in the next few months. Here are a few ways to make sure your summer gets off to the right start.
Establish Daily Rules and Rituals
Just because you're on vacation doesn't mean you can't do everything creative that you wanted to do as well. And even if you're not on vacation, you can still keep some rules. Some daily rules you might establish for yourself include reading every day (maybe a chapter or so), or doing a small writing exercise every day, or working on your story or novel a little every day. To keep these concrete rules, use a to-do-list (on a computer or on paper), or make a mark on your calendar when you've done it. That way, you'll have established a way to be held accountable to yourself.
Establish Creative Goals
Working during the summer doesn't just mean obeying small rules; it means having a larger sense of what all that time could do for your creative projects. At the beginning of the summer, sit down with a notebook and write down what you really want to accomplish. Be hard on yourself and realistic. Can you really read War and Peace and finish your novel? Maybe it's better to say that you want to write the first hundred pages, or thoroughly edit a few short stories. Whatever it is, be ambitious and make sure you pick goals that you'll be excited to complete.
Have Fun; Take Risks; Learn
The other important thing to remember is that the summer is, ultimately, a wonderful time to stretch out and do things we don't normally do. That means taking creative risks as well as going to new places or trying new skills. I'll be trying to learn the guitar this summer, as well as reading some new books, getting a new place to live, and preparing for a new job. The summer can be full of exciting newness if you choose to fill it with new adventures. Why not bring that spirit with you when you write?