It’s Memorial Day, the official start of summer. It’s time for long weekends, family visits, and vacations. For writers with children, it often means a totally different rhythm from the school year and having kids underfoot during your normal writing time. Add into these interruptions the belief that that “no one” in publishing works in the summer and that “everyone” decamps to the Hamptons so you might as well not pitch any agents, expect anything back from editors, or do anything writing related at all, and you have a pretty valid argument for letting your writing languish over the summer.
I’m here to urge you not to give your writing a summer break. Momentum and consistency are too important to the creative process. As Stephen Pressfield says in The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles:
“When we sit down day after day and keep grinding, something mysterious starts to happen... Unseen forces enlist in our cause; serendipity reinforces our purpose.”
Maybe you can’t sit down for the same amount of time or produce the same amount of pages as you can in other seasons, but that’s doesn’t mean you should simply stop. It means you should readjust your goals, give yourself a break, and continue to write.
Try to imagine September. The light is changing, clocks are getting re-set, and back-to-school night is on the calendar. And in the last three months, you have accomplished __________________.
What will you fill in the blank with? What can you use as a measure of your success in June, July and August?
- Did you sit down to write every day, even for two minutes? (See Mae Respicio’s great interview with me where she talked about writing her novel in five-minute chunks at the end of busy days.) This might be a good goal if you know you are going to be swamped.
- Did you finish a rough draft of your book? This might be a good goal if you are close to the end.
- Did you launch a new project and get 50 pages into it? (You might want to think about doing the Blueprint for a Book course in June to kickstart your book OR the all-new Blueprint two-day Sprint in July.) This might be a good goal if you are waffling about committing to a project, stuck deciding between two ideas, or dragging your feet on finally saying, “YES I AM A WRITER!”
- Did you prepare everything you need to start pitching? (See Author Accelerator’s Pitch Track if you need help.)
- Did you teach yourself something new about social media, running a blog or a newsletter, launching a website or connecting with your ideal readers?
- Did you attend five events for writers and make a point to try to make writer friends?
- Did you attend a writing conference and make goals to make good use of the opportunities there? There are some fabulous conferences in the summer. You can use the AWP search function or the ShawGuide website to locate one appropriate to your budget and your needs. Here are three notable ones:
- The Sewanee Writer’s Conference, which is workshop-based and designed to help writers finish existing work.
- The New York Pitch Conference, which is in New York City and focused on pitching (surprise!)
- Writer's Digest Annual Conference, which has different tracks depending on your interest.
It doesn’t matter WHAT you do, as long as you do something to continue to be engaged in your work.
If you need a public place to declare your summer writing goal, come onto my blog and declare it: in the comments section. I promise that I will see and respond to every comment.
Oh and that the thing about the Hamptons? It isn’t true. One of my clients recently landed a top agent, and that agent has been working hard to make sure the project is ready to pitch in early June.