Grab Your Summer by the Horns

Grab Your Summer by the Horns

It's officially summer, people. School might not be out quite yet, but the skies are blue, the humidity is creeping up, and more and more people are wearing tiny shorts and leaving sweaty marks on the subway seats. Those signs tell me that it's time to shift gears and think about how to make this the best summer ever. And how will we make it our most writerly summer ever? Here are some tips for rocking your summer the way writers do.

Make a plan. If you're not careful, one day you'll look up from tanning on the beach and discover that it's August 31st and you haven't accomplished anything. Don't let the summer slip through your fingers like beach sand! Instead, take a moment this weekend to write down a few things you absolutely must do before the summer dies. A sort of summer bucket list, if you will. How about completing the draft of a new short story? How about reading that big classic novel you've been meaning to read, like Middlemarch or Anna Karenina? How about writing three chapters of your novel project? How about -- how about --?

Set aside time. Oh, sorry, story -- I can't write you today. My friends are going camping, or they're going to the beach, or I'm going to a party. The summer can become crowded with plans, even as all this wonderful time frees up without school. Be sure to set aside time for writerly thoughts, or else you'll be horribly rusty by the time the fall rolls around. Every morning after your breakfast, write two pages in your notebook, even if they're really bad pages. Or vow to take a notebook with you to the pool or on that trip, and write a little after dinner. Whenever is a good time for you, you can make it work -- but only if you set aside that time.

Live, laugh, enjoy life -- and write about it. All kinds of writers will tell you that our writing is better when we've lived fully and experienced life richly. That's the primary source of material. So how will you know what wet sand feels like unless you hold it clumped in your hand? How will you know what a pineapple tastes like unless you've bitten into a slice? How will you know what it's like to go to a party, or to talk to an older relative about another time, unless you do it?

So don't forget to have fun. Use the summer for what it's meant for -- new life experiences, new sounds and smells and sights, and a little relaxation from the stresses of the school year. Just don't forget to sit down at a table at the end of it all and write it down. This is life; this is the good stuff.