For many writers I know, summer is a time for slowing down, relaxing their schedules, or even taking a writing hiatus altogether. Not so for me. As a public school teacher, summer vacation is my time to ramp things up.
Inevitably, I set pretty lofty goals for myself. While I don’t always meet every objective, I usually do get a lot accomplished during the summer. However, I read a book recently that made me take a good long look at my preferred mode of operation.
In his book Million Dollar Productivity, Kevin J. Anderson says that waiting for a large block of time is not the best way to approach writing if your goal is to become more productive. The danger, he says, is that waiting for that large block of time becomes an excuse for inactivity during the rest of the year. I think he’s right. I’ve seen this play out in my own life, especially during the winter months right after Christmas. Even though I have plenty of time in the evenings, I don’t always “feel” like sitting down to that work in progress and opt for watching TV instead.
He has several pieces of advice to help combat the excuses:
- Get into the habit of writing on a daily basis, even if it is only for a half hour.
- Learn to write in smaller chunks. A few words are better than no words.
- Have several projects on the go at one time. This way, if you get stuck with one project, you can still be moving forward with another.
- Recognize that writing is not the same as editing. Allow first drafts to be rough. You will get more words on the page that way.
- Guard your writing time from the snares of social media and email. There is a time for those activities, but not during your writing time.
- Think outside the box. He uses a recording device and dictates his rough drafts while hiking. Talk about doubling up on productivity!
Most of this advice is fairly simple and quite doable. In fact, I implement most of these ideas already, minus the dictation—an idea which I find fascinating and which I just might want to try. I have also found that having a deadline really helps me focus. (When left to my own devices, I tend to wander off the path a bit.) Setting your own deadlines is a useful strategy that helps trick you into getting more done.
It all boils down to what works best for YOU, as an individual writer. Whether you take the summer off or find it helps you get more writing done, there are no excuses. It’s up to you to take charge of your own writing.
Tracy Krauss is a multi-published author and playwright living and writing in British Columbia. http://tracykrauss.com
I like the idea of having several projects on the go so we can switch to a different one when stuck. I also like his dictation idea. I might have to try that when driving, although, when I hear my voice being played back I usually wince and laugh at myself. 🙂