Summer is always a mixed blessing for my writing life. On the one hand, I’ve always been extremely sensitive to heat – I’ve passed out during outdoor events and gotten violently ill after spending too much time outdoors. This means I’m disinclined to socialize and spend more time imagining I’m somewhere else. Of course, Covid-19 has blitzed whatever life outside of the office I ever had, and without summer festivals and cons to guide my schedule, I’ve been a little lost. Fortunately, I’m finally building a new normal.
Embrace Nocturnal Writing Time
I always like the dark hours, but in the summer, they’re especially valuable because they’re cooler. This means I’m less tempted by social media, which is quieter in the wee hours, and I have extremely few distractions.
If you’ve never tried writing at night, particularly during the ‘witching hours’ between midnight and four o’clock, you should. Things don’t just look and sound different. They feel different. You understand the world around you in a very different way. If you live in a safe enough neighborhood, I recommend taking at least one stroll around midnight. It’s a different world when the sun goes down.
Recover and Rebuild
Although I already worked from home, the Corona Virus hit me hard in some unexpected ways. Those of us with pre-existing mental health issues did not always have new struggles in a practical sense, but I lost almost my entire support-structure overnight. I couldn’t turn to friends who served as emergency lifelines during a severe depression spiral, and those I talked to online were facing too many of their own emergencies to do much about mine.
But after all these months, although the threats outside are still very real, my equilibrium is finally coming back. I’m giving myself space to recover, and I’m looking at what I should spend the time and energy to rebuild.
Start Something New
I’ve started a new WIP this month to celebrate my birthday. I don’t feel up to tackling my larger projects – the ones that are almost sacred in my mind’s eye. We all have a few holy projects we’re afraid to mess up by starting.
So, I chose another project and got to work.
Work on Smaller Projects
The project I chose is drastically smaller than my sacred, sprawling, half-plotted mess of an epic. If it clears 70,000 words, I’ll be satisfied. It has a small cast. It features simpler themes. Once it’s finished, I have a novella project lined up.
This is a great opportunity to step back from the grand project your pray will be your masterpiece and work on a project with less pressure attached to it.
Take Time to Build a Platform
I am very good at doing this sort of work for other people. Most of my income comes from ghostwriting. I’m hoping, in the next few years, that will change. That, unfortunately, means I have to take the time to build a platform. The pace of life has slowed in the face of the pandemic, and I’m using that to my advantage. I have time to research and develop options before launching my own website. I can narrow down the focus of potential blogs and even spend a few hours connecting with fellow authors and editors on social media. If you’ve ever wanted to build up your platform, but didn’t think it was the right time, this is your moment.
I can’t say it’s going to be a great summer. It’s already been a rough ride. But I’ll have something at the end of it, and I can use that impetus to propel me into the next season.