What’s your summertime writing behavior? Are you reading this during breaks at a writers’ workshop or sitting in a cottage? Do you take vacation days to barricade yourself at home with your laptop? Will your Fourth of July be spent editing the work you wrote over Memorial Day weekend? Do you take the summer off? (How do you do that?)
The gift of morning sunlight began my tradition of getting up early to write when I was working full-time in the corporate world. Whether completing exercises in Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, writing a page of story development, or revising old work, I tried to commit sixty minutes before starting the regular day activities. This discipline helped me break a few bad habits like playing computer card games before beginning a project or believing nothing of value could be done in one hour. I didn’t feel guilty about ignoring my second ‘job’ or become irritable as weeks passed and I forgot more and more about a promising storyline.
When my work role was defined by a monthly paycheck and long hours, I often frittered away snippets of an hour or two. Hungry to complete an entire short story for my writing group, I didn’t value writing just two or three paragraphs. Looking for the magic equation of how many pages successful writers produced each day, I felt I couldn’t ever finish anything in tiny sips of time.
A book on creating time for self-restoration changed my thinking. The Woman’s Retreat Book by Jennifer Louden encouraged grabbing as little as sixty minutes to rebalance life. If I wanted to produce more, I had to use each hour. For me, that meant walking away from time-robbing routines like clearing my desk, finding the right music, making a cup of tea, or playing computer games. Ian Graham Leask, a writing coach and friend, once challenged my insistence that I had to do these things to get into the right frame of mind. I think he called the whole routine bullcrap and suggested I take a legal pad and a pen to a library and write every day for a week.
Ian was right. Music and a clean office make for a pleasant work experience, but writing can be done almost anywhere. A coffee shop, an airplane, the waiting room of a doctor. Sometimes I carry a page that needs revision in my bag and make notes or revise one line when I’m alone and stuck somewhere.
Back to the question, what is your summertime writing practice? Be gentle as you self-assess. But if you want to write more, you might need to be receptive to exploring changes in your current pattern. Maybe sunscreen, a glass of ice tea, and a chair outside could shake up that creative mind.