Four Tips to Beat the Summer Writing Doldrums

writers and summer_doldrums_picThe sun is shining, the kids are out of school, people are on vacation, and you are … inside writing. Cue the scratch on the soundtrack. That doesn’t sound right, does it?

In summer time, many folks, me included, find it harder to hunker down and get the business of writing done. There’s the distraction of the weather. Sunny days tend to call you outside to the pool, to a hike, or even just a walk down the street. There are also barbecues, family vacations, and just a general laid-back attitude.

So, how does one overcome the distraction and sit down and get their writing life in order?

Tip 1 – Prioritize. Time and attention are going to be limited when we’ve got a bunch of activities we could be doing. So, prioritize the activities that you want to get done. In summer, there’s just too much going on for us to accomplish every activity (fun or not fun) we want to do. Therefore, for the summer, figure out what your top goals are. You may want to set up your priorities for the entire summer, but you should also set up weekly priorities. That way, when you sit down to work, you can focus on those activities you really want to get done, whether that be writing something new, editing something you’ve written, or something else.

Tip 2 – Schedule it. While we tend to be more rigid at other times of the year, when summer comes, we’re often in a go with the flow mood. The kids aren’t in school. On any given day, at least a quarter of the office staff is out because they’re on vacation. It just seems like a lax time, so we’re in the mood to just let things go. This is why we get less done. If you want to ensure your writing doesn’t get lax in the summer, schedule it in, the same way you schedule in a car appointment or a trip to the grocery store. Don’t just tell yourself you’ll do it. Actually stick it in the calendar. If you have a spouse like mine, you should put it in the calendar you share with the spouse. My husband says it’s not a legitimate event he has to recognize unless it’s in calendar.

Tip 3. Use your outdoor time to get inspired. Let’s face it. The weather is nice, and we’re going out more — to the beach, to play tennis with a friend, a pickup game of basketball, gardening. Use your outdoor time as inspiration. While you’re out playing, let your mind catalog a thought or two about what you might write when you get back to your laptop.

Tip 4. Be Realistic. Summer is when people go on vacations, so if you’re going on vacation, figure out what you realistically want to and can accomplish. For some people, going on vacation means they do nothing with their writing life. For others, vacation is time away from the 9-to-5 job, and a time to ramp up their writing. Whichever way you swing, be realistic about what you plan to do on vacation. If it’s nothing, that’s fine. If it’s a writing juggernaut, that’s fine, too. Just be clear and stick with the plan.

Author: RJ Crayton

RJ Crayton is a former journalist turned novelist. By day, she writes thrillers with a touch of romance. By night, she practices the art of ninja mom. To learn more about her or her books, visit her website or her Author Central page.

10 thoughts on “Four Tips to Beat the Summer Writing Doldrums”

  1. I’m a poor time manager. So number one is the one that speaks to me best. I’d add “use those unexpected free periods”. It’s surprising what you can accomplish in even a half hour.

  2. I can manage my time accurately, it’s other people who mess up the arrangements. So I don’t bother. When I want to write, I sit down and write, keeping going until someone comes and closes the lid of my desk to stop me.
    Okay, sometimes that happens after just a few minutes because She-who-must-be-obeyed, or one of the grandchildren wants something. But every few minutes I spend writing builds up the product and, little by little, the job gets done. I save the occasions when she’s out shopping as my editing time, because then I can really focus.
    After eight books, I reckon I can claim my system works. 🙂

    1. It’s good you’ve found a system that works. And I agree with you that unexpected tasks from thise who must be obeyed (whether it be boss, spouse or probation officer) throw a monkey wrench into even the best laid plans.

  3. This is a timely post – no pun intended! I’m involved in so many other projects in the summer that my writing time unfortunately gets moved to the bottom to the list of “things accomplished”. And I know it’s because, unlike my other project demands, I’m only accountable to myself in meeting any writing deadlines and I’m an easy ( pathetic?) boss who regularly lets that happen.

    Love your tip #2 about entering writing time on a calendar. I have a spouse who does not respect my writing time as anything more than a little hobby indulgence. Maybe if it was carved in stone (well, ink on paper anyway) it would gain more legitimacy! Gonna give that a try!! Thanks, RJ!

    1. I know exactly what you’re saying about being a forgiving boss of yourself. It’s easy to cut yourself some slack.

      I hope scheduling on the calendar helps make a difference for you.

  4. RJ, your bit about the calendar and your husband’s response rings true for me–if it’s not on the calendar, even if I’ve said something, it doesn’t count. Has to be in writing. The good news, tho, is that if my husband can’t find me, he can certainly guess where I am, hunkered down in the office. He never has to look more than one place!

  5. All great tips, RJ. I’m currently weighing whether to make my vacation next month an inspirational trip or a working trip. I’ll probably settle for a mix.

    1. A mixed vacation sounds like good plan. It’s nice to get away and relax, but sometimes writing is relaxing, so if you can find the right mix, it’s wonderful.

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