It seems no matter what type of life you have, be it working parent or homemaker, summer presents some challenges of it’s own. You tend to have far more obligations than even during holiday season. The kids are home, the days are hot. You are tasked with all of the duties you have daily already, and keeping the family obligations in check. Between barbecues and softball games, there seems to be a summer holiday every other week. How does a writer find time to crunch in our passions while still making ends meet?
Today I am offering ten ideas on combating summer overload.
- Move your WIP to a cloud based program. Be it One Cloud (which is free) or Dropbox (which can be free if you send enough referrals) or some other program you can reach from anywhere. Why this helps, most importantly it backs up your WIPs, but there is an added convenience factor. With these programs you can open your work from any computer or even your cell phone. Instead of carrying a book to read in between appointments and meetings, the waiting room now becomes your down time to work on your projects…I used to hate waiting rooms, now I feel like I am never in them long enough.
- Make your kids write; Yep I said it. Do you already make your kids read daily? Why not make them write? It is just as educational as reading, and gives them an outlet for creativity. Do they have a favorite action figure or doll? Why not encourage them to put the make believe into story form? My kids alternate between reading for an hour each day to writing. Why this helps, either way it buys me an hour of downtime, where I am not serving drinks and washing clothes.
- Do you spend your lunch breaks yammering with the exact same people you talk with at work all day? Why? Take that time to spill the thoughts you have accumulated while doing the mundane stuff at work all day. Get them out on paper or in your new cloud media.
- Join a Writers Club, and I don’t mean online. I mean look around your area for actual writing groups. Some of them have been around for centuries and can include famous writers, some are new and both can give you access to resources you may never dreamt existed for writers. Many offer critique swaps and group chapter reviews. Why this helps, it gives you actual sectioned off time during your week where you’re unavailable to the rest of the world.
- Writing retreats. They are actually everywhere. Be it by the hour, day, weekend or week long vacation style. There are some awesome venues for you to actually block off time to yourself for the explicit purpose of writing. I attended a writing workshop where a house was loaned to us for the entire day. Every writer had their own room to work in, and there was potluck and coffee. The day ended in critique, and it was probably the most productive writing experience ever. That event was free, and many of them are. The week long retreats will probably cost some dough, but if you’re planning a vacation this summer, why not?
- Chucky Cheese ( I shit you not) I have autistic twins. They need constant attention most days. But when I go to Chucky’s they have free for all. I give them a coin to play a game, and before they can come back for another they have to do a lap through the jungle gym. They can’t make it out the door because there are guards with blue lights to check the invisible ink on their wrists. If they aren’t with an adult (or their own adult) they can’t go anywhere. My sister lets her 4 year old loose all day. Why this helps, you get to sit at the table and write. I can’t stand noise while I’m writing but here there is so much of it, that it just becomes white noise.
- Go camping. Even though I work I spend a lot of time camping even during the week. It takes me out of the chores when I get back from work. Less dishes, less laundry, more time to sit in my folding chair with a notebook or smartphone. The kids are busy with activities and group stuff, and not hanging on me the entire night.
- Break up your vacations if you can. I take 4 day weekends a lot. Far more often than using an actual vacation week. The average employee starts with 2 weeks paid vacation usually, why not break up one of those weeks and give yourself extra days off in the summer. Piggy back one onto a 3 day holiday weekend or a birthday weekend if you have kiddos…It makes you feel less crushed during the summer, and gives you more work/life balance. Plus after those holidays we need a break. They are a lot of work. Why this helps, now you have an extra day every few weeks where you can devote it to nothing but writing.
- Write in the morning, I mean really early, before everyone wakes up. I know you’re telling yourself right now, “Yeah but I don’t even get up for the gym in the morning.” Waking up early to workout everyday takes like 3 weeks to become a habit, but writing is different. You can’t turn off your mind once it is in the habit, and you will find you can’t break the habit even if you want to by the end of the first week. Set your alarm an hour earlier, and I promise come the weekend you won’t even need it. You will be laying in bed on your sleep in day saying “Why am I awake?”
This will be your most productive writing as well. Your characters won’t shut up, because your brain hasn’t been crushed by your busy day yet. At night we tend to wander off on all the things we forgot to do, in the morning we are still shaking the dream phase and this will help with your visuals.
- Everyone is going to hate me for this one. No TV. Or at least shorten it to a couple nights a week. I rarely watch TV. I seriously have like 3 shows a year I follow and I have a hard time finding anything new because I never see trailers. After work I like to unplug, the less noise the better for me. This will buy you more quiet time over the long run. If you’re particularly busy like me those minutes add up over the long haul. You can get more writing time in just by knocking things out you weren’t planning, because the TV time is gone.
I know that not everyone will benefit from every tip here, maybe you have pets instead of kiddos, or maybe you work two jobs and run a home. But if one or two helped out or even sparked an idea for you to try out, please let me know I am forever looking for ways to buy more writing time. Thanks for Reading.