First summer post of 2018 feels like a blank canvas. I stand back eyeing it from different angles, adjusting the blinds to allow in the right amount of light, afraid to choose a color, a medium, a subject. Hanging over my mental awareness is the fear that whatever I choose begins the process. The spiraling journey down to Autumn, to the end of this short-tempered season of energy and possibility. And I don’t want to miss a moment.
A schedule. Yes, I should create a writing schedule for all my projects. Some of you may know I am a teacher by day, and therefore summer vacation usually involves classes for continuing education credits. I also have a ginormous re-write ahead of me, and my procrastination on this project has suddenly revealed its ugly fangs. I have my Colors poetry series to continue building on Channillo. My Children’s Tanka is not revising itself. There are publishing decisions to make about my adoption chapbook, Gravitational Pull. Plus, I have several books I want/need to read this summer. Oh, and my family might want to see me a time or two.
Here it goes, my first mark across the page: Less is more.
When overwhelmed by creative ideas, therefore stalled as to which way to go, I stop and breathe. I will create a schedule of intent and move slowly toward its light. That’s all I can do. It will involve writing a little, studying a little, reading a little, and living a little. Resting a little too, because isn’t that what summer is about? Rejuvenation?
Daily To-Do Check-Off:
- Devotional to start the day enlightened
- Pilates and strength training
- Writing and/or revising poetry
- Working on my Seam Keeper Re-Write
- More coffee
- House chores and family obligations/schedules in between
- Homework reading and essay writing
- Coffee (it’s decaf, I can drink as much as I need)
- Family Time
- I might need a glass of wine by now
As you can see, I have high hopes of accomplishing many forms of writing this season. However, I also read this article, A Realistic Summer Writing Schedule, by Theresa MacPhail, https://chroniclevitae.com/news/1044-a-realistic-summer-writing-schedule. Her advice was to be more flexible in your summer schedule. She recommends progressing on writing while also going to the beach… because that’s what summer is all about. If we grip too lofty of a goal, then burn out is not far away. Let’s be honest and realistic with ourselves; extra time for focused writing is a gift. I will certainly use my day moving my writing along. Though perhaps a little insight to scheduling isn’t a bad idea.
MacPhail offers three simple rules:
- Stop thinking of your summer writing in terms of Big Projects (which is exactly what I do – BIG PROJECTS and then I feel overwhelmed). No one can sit down and write a book in a day, or a week, or a month. Think about the vocabulary you use, as it can help ground your expectations, motivations, and goal-setting. Slim it down and you will be more productive.
- Set a realistic schedule (for you) and stick with it (mostly). She suggests unless you are a professional writer, two to four hours a day is enough. Then it’s time for summer. I personally believe this is sound advice. I believe our experiences not writing actually encourage and improve our writing. My post from last week, Writing Inspiration Through Motion: Artist Dorothy Napangardi, (https://stepsinbetween.com/2018/06/17/writing-inspiration-through-motion-artist-dorothy-napangardi/) was all about getting out there and meeting new people, or learning new things, having experiences to help us become all-around better writers. Time away from writing can be a motivator.
- Know yourself as a writer. Do you have a word-count you are trying to reach? Do you write better in short spurts with lots of breaks for distraction in between? Do you need a deadline to accomplish great feats? Decide how you best work and go from there, realistically. For me, I need to do a little in each category. And I mean just a little. Less is more, with the lens of quality versus quantity. Although, as writers, we must feel free to write the bad versions in order to revise our work to be better. I work best in shorter spurts with breaks to see my family or throw in a load of laundry. A trip to Starbucks works wonders for reviving my creativity. At the end of each day, if I can say I wrote a little, studied a little, read a little, and took lots of breaks with my family, then I feel accomplished.
Whatever you do this summer with your writing, make sure you are feeling positive. Set realistic goals for yourself, and get out to see the sun as well. Hopefully we can slow the pace of that spiraling affect of summer… spread it out and set up camp. A little goes a long way.
Now, start splashing some color..
Writing Advice: Set a Timer
There are many other categories of life that haunt me while I write. Those nagging responsibilities I have as a mother, wife, teacher, citizen… and I care deeply about all of them. It’s just so hard to write with constant interruptions. So, when I’m feeling swamped I think of it like circuit training. I set a timer (either physically or mentally… one page of writing then… or the end of this part and then…). As I stated above, it’s important for me to feel like I’ve done a little (well) in each category. Give it a try.
See what happens when you set a timer. Write a little. Take a quick break to run up and down the stairs. Get a drink of water. Write a little. Take a break to pay a bill. Run the dishwasher. Call a friend. Write a little. Take a break to see your family. Eat some food. Read a little. Write a little. This is how I fit everything in and still feel present in every part of my life.
The added bonus is that I’m always processing my work when I’m away from it, and I truly believe it makes it better upon return. We are more than just our moments behind the keyboard. Happy Writing!
~Celaine Charles, 6/24/18
https://searchengineland.com/cultivating-realistic-seo-timeline-214202 (clock and calendar)
https://afriendofjesus2013.com/category/life-moments/how-well-do-you-know-yourself-life/ (know yourself quote)
https://andriandreo.deviantart.com/art/The-Time-Artwork-325106004 (time art by Andriandreo)
Categories: Thoughts on writing...
Tags: #celainecharleswriter, #schedules, #stepsinbetween, #summerwriting, #writersunite, #writingcommunity, amwriting, authors, encouragement, inspiration, poetry, poets, writers, writing, writingadvice