New Month, New Challenges

New Month, New Challenges

It's September, writers! That means we've got a lot to look forward to: the crisp bite of Autumn air, the return of school books, homework, and papers, and the full-blast return of a busy schedule. Of course, that means we have a whole host of new writing challenges ahead of us.

August had its writing challenges -- namely, the lack of activity and the heat kept productivity down. But now we'll be wishing it was August again. "What did I do with all that free time?" I'll wonder, as I race from job to job and class to class. In a busy September, it's easy to push writing to the bottom of the pile. But here are a few ways to make sure you're still coming up for air -- and breathing a few deep creative breaths -- before submerging yourself again.

1. Use small times during the day

We tend to disregard the snatches of ten and fifteen minutes that we have throughout the day. Why not use these to try doing a little writing? As long as you always have a notebook with you (which every writer should), you can make any time writing time. Write during your lunch or on the ride home or in the mornings or right after dinner or while you're waiting for your laundry. Even if it's only a few sentences, it's the difference between a writerly and a non-writerly day.

2. Give yourself writing homework

I know we all have enough work already, but if you assign yourself formal homework, you'll be able to take it seriously and set aside time for it. Tell yourself to finish five new pages by the end of the week, or to get to the end of the story. When you get to the big deadline day, print it out and read it over with a critical eye, as if you were the teacher grading your own work. Be harsh. Don't be afraid to give yourself C's and D's. Tell yourself to improve next week.

3. Stop and smell the roses

September is probably my favorite month because I love Autumn. As this magical season approaches, don't let yourself miss the shout of color, the clear skies, or the starry nights. Writers need to experience. Think carefully and look deeply. Breathe the night air. And keep challenging yourself.