Your Summer Plan

janav Creativity, Productivity, Time Management, Writing Leave a Comment

Many people count Memorial Day the official start of summer; others follow the meteorological calendar (or Summer Solstice) or start of the school summer vacation. It depends on your lifestyle. For me it never really feels like summer until after the MFA residency ends, which this year is July 1.

However you count it, this time of year signals a change of routine for many people. For some, it means more free time, for vacation or flex schedules. For others, it’s busier because kids are around more, or other things take precedence. At any change of season, it can be helpful to be proactive in figuring out what your creative schedule will be. It’s fine to have a change of routine (in fact, it can help us get out of a rut). However, if we don’t have a plan to manage the transition, it can also be easy to let creative work slide.

If you take a vacation from writing, or whatever creative pursuit, that doesn’t have to mean disaster. It can be good to take a break, explore new places or new pursuits, get new perspective on our life and art. On the other hand, if we let it go completely, it may be difficult to get back into it later (inertia is always a challenge to overcome, and like any muscle that gets flabby with underuse, our creative muscles can also turn to mush if left unworked too long).

The key is to make a conscious choice, and stick with it. Take a look at your life right now, and take stock. Do you have more time to write, or less? Has your schedule changed in some way? For me, it’s easier to get up early since the sun rises so much earlier. Getting up to write and work out early is not the chore it is during the darker months. I’m not teaching as much, so I have more time for coaching and writing. The weather is (usually) nice so I can spend more time outside (although that takes me away from my desk, I often get ideas from taking long walks).

In addition to an ever-growing pile of fiction, I’m reading Lisa Cron’s Story Genius and Donald Maas’ The Emotional Craft of Fiction. With their techniques in mind, I’m reworking a story that has been languishing for a while. I don’t think I’ll get through a complete rewrite by Labor Day, but the idea is to build momentum that will take me through the next seasonal change.

What are your summer goals? Between, say, now and Labor Day? Are there specific books you want to read? A project you’d like to plan? A rough draft, or final draft to complete? A class you’d like to take? A conference or retreat to attend (or a self-designed retreat you’d like to plan and execute)? Do you need to take a look at your current schedule and see when you will do your creative work?

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