The days are long, the nights are short, and the siren song of summer break affects us all, no matter how long ago we graduated. It’s time to get writing and readjust those ambitious New Year resolutions. It’s time to put those hazy summer daydreams to work, maybe even arrange a shotgun wedding with realistic limitations.
Practice as a Goal
It’s way too easy to see your only goal as a finished book. The weeks, months, and years it takes to make that book don’t matter. Every word on the page is progress, though, and using “practice” as a goal rewards you for every second you spend writing.
It’s hard to work towards a distant goal. If you take a break before you finish, you don’t feel like you’ve achieved anything, so should you be taking a break at all? The cycle of frustration and anxiety may prevent you from getting started at all. When practice is your goal, though, you win every time you try.
Doing Something New
I have a very bad habit of planning massive projects, writing one or two scenes, and realizing I don’t feel comfortable in my skills. So, I set them aside and decide to work on it later, when I’m better at whatever I feel I lack. Any of you who have ever – you know – learned something already see the flaw in this plan: you have to actually use those tricky new techniques, compose the daring scenes, and spend time in a character’s head to do any of those things well.
This summer I’m taking advantage of the long nights to practice new things anonymously through things like fanfiction. It supports my first goal, too, so that’s a step in the right direction. Although I won’t always be working on a purely original project, I can always carry over what I’ve learned or rework a fanfic into an original piece. Sometimes you have to take a side path to get around obstacles on the main road. And anyone who’s been on a road trip knows detours can be the best part of the journey.
Taking Advantage of (Bad) Opportunities
I deal with multiple chronic health problems, and my sleep schedule often suffers. When I’m not losing days (sleeping so long I actually miss entire days), I’m roaming the night-shrouded halls at ungodly hours in pursuit of even vague interest in rest. It’s hard to keep a schedule when you don’t know when you’ll be conscious, so my day is more a to-do list than an appointment calendar.
I have lots of bad times I could transform into opportunities to write. This summer I’m working on spontaneous creativity, because my regularly scheduled broadcast is a little bit broken. That means writing a little here, a little there, and leaning into the sleepless hours.
Will this change with my health? Hopefully, but getting ideas down quickly is a skill, one I plan to develop.
Developing with Beta Readers
I’m lucky to have a handful of trusted beta and alpha readers. There’s been some drama in other writer communities lately (especially Twitter) as new authors discover trusted beta readers have betrayed them. These failed betas insult the work they volunteered to support through development. They literally do the opposite of a beta reader’s work – publicly tearing down writers when they promised to help them grow in private.
I’ve taken this as a cue to work more closely with my teams. Rather than just chucking half-finished works at them and sobbing for help, I’m bringing alpha readers into developmental phases. I reach out with Pinterest aesthetic boards, brief summaries, and potential trigger warnings. Which projects do they want to be involved in? What excites them? Not only does this set up a better beta reading experience, but it gives me early insight into my target audience.
What goals do you have this summer? How do the changing daylight hours affect your writing schedule? What seeds do you want to nurture this season? Share your thoughts with other writers below!