If you’re like me, the instant the summer days get longer and the sun shines bright, you’re ready for adventure. Some of the adventures I have in mind involve the beach and relaxation, but summer is also my most productive time for writing. Last year I wrote two full-length novel first drafts during the summer. The sun energizes me and I’m a night owl, so after a long day of soaking up all those rays, I’m usually ready to sit and take a few hours out to type up the ideas that have been brewing in my mind all day.
The thing that most often seems to surprise people about my productive summer writing schedule is that I’m a mom of four young children (under the age of six). While this definitely impacts my writing experience, I actually find summer to be an ideal time to sneak in some extra writing. With that in mind, here are some strategies I use to maximize my productivity:
Take Advantage of the Small Moments
Whether a parent or not, summer tends to be a time that is packed with a lot of extra activities. Between extended family vacations or hiking or camping or gardening, there’s just a lot going on that requires you to divide your time more. In my case, I stay very aware of the way this limits my time for writing, so I look for small moments throughout the day to get a few words down here or there. Whether my kids are occupied splashing around a water table or I get them sitting with popsicles, I’ll grab five or ten minutes here or there to write a sentence or a paragraph. It may not be the ideal way to write, but these small moments add up to lots of words a day. Speaking of that…
Set Concrete Goals
I’m a competitive person. The competition I enjoy the most, though, is competing with myself. In writing, the way I do this is to set a daily or weekly word count goal (for me, usually weekly works best because it gives me flexibility if one day doesn’t end up going as planned). I may set an initial goal to get 10K words done in a week. If I meet it, then I up the count, to see how much more I can get done the next week (so it might be 12K the next week). This helps keep me motivated to try to push myself each week.
Maintain Dedicated Summer Writing Time
In order to achieve these goals, though, I find it really important to make sure I carve out time to write every day. I write best at night time after my kids have gone to bed (because I am not a morning person anyway), but I know there are some people who will get up an hour or two before their families in order to have quiet time to dedicate to writing. Either way, find the time of day when you can have that valuable, uninterrupted time to focus and make sure to prioritize it.
Give Yourself a Break
Here’s the thing: even though a lot of this sounds like it takes effort (and it does), the exciting moments you’re not writing and having those summer adventures can actually feed your creativity. So take the breaks. Go on that hike. Go berry picking. Read a book on the beach. All of it can help you to come back to that project you’re working on feeling refreshed. Some of those things might even spark ideas. The biggest secret weapon I have in my arsenal as a busy mom who loves summer is that I do the majority of my writing in my head, away from the screen. And when I do sit to write? My writing time is energized, fun, and productive.