I’ve received a lot of email from writers and blog readers about the difficulties of writing during the summer. Kids and grandkids are home from school, vacations are taken, company arrives. Is there a way to keep writing, despite all this?
Yes. You can journal through the summer.
I wrote this article (first part below, second part on Tuesday) for my book, Writer’s First Aid. It’s from the section called “Work Habits That Work for You.” Hope you find it helpful!
For a variety of reasons, writers often have difficulty writing during the summer. Your children may be out of school and underfoot, or you may have a house full of company. You may have trips and vacations planned. Warm weather may entice you onto the beach or golf course. Whatever the cause, you’re thrown out of your writing routine. Sometimes you stop writing altogether and lose your momentum. One solution? Journal through your summer.
Journaling is a hobby with many advantages. It’s inexpensive. A cheap spiral notebook will work just fine. Your journal is always available, and all you need in the way of equipment is a pen. Journaling can be done at any time of day, in any type of weather, for as long (or short) a time as you desire.
Are We Having Fun Yet?
Journaling is meant to be fun. Don’t put expectations on yourself during journaling time. Forget about your performance, and don’t critique yourself. Relax. Let go. Writers need a place to write where “enjoyment” is the only requirement. Ask yourself frequently, “Am I having fun?” If not, loosen up. Write from your gut. Be totally honest. If you can relax and have fun, you’ll eventually discover the natural writing “voice” within you. You won’t have to try. Your unique voice will simply flow out onto the page.
Journal the Joys
Journaling during the summer has many advantages. If you’re traveling, it can provide written snapshots of the people you see, the places you go, and the things you do. (Back home, these descriptions easily translate into nonfiction ideas or into characters, settings, and plots for your stories.) If a special event is scheduled–a wedding or the birth of a grandchild–journaling is ideal for capturing those special, once-in-a-lifetime feelings. If you’re surrounded by active children, journaling provides a practical and convenient way to capture creative ideas on the run, since a useful journal entry need take no more than 10-15 minutes.
Journal the Blues
Journaling can also be beneficial in helping you work through unpleasant feelings that summertime sometimes produces. Perhaps your cross to bear is your in-laws’ yearly two-week visit. Journal beforehand, journal during the visit, and journal afterwards.
Before they arrive, write about your feelings of dread. Remember (on paper) the past visits. Describe how you hope this visit will go, then brainstorm ideas that can make that dream a reality. During their visit (perhaps late at night) journal your frustrations, failures–and successes! Use the journal for a dumping ground of negative feelings. (Be sure to hide the notebook!) After they return home, a journal can be used to process the visit. How did it go? What did you learn? What would you do differently next time? Was there improvement? (Later, these notes could become a how-to article on structuring a successful in-law visit.)
The second part will be on Tuesday. Feel free to add your own ideas for journaling in the summer in the comments!