Summer Writing: tips for a successful season

cartoon-sun-mdGood morning, Readers and Writers!

Happy Memorial Day! Summer is here….finally!

Here in Chicago, it seemed that the sun would never get here, but last week, our entire neighborhood turned green. It has been fun to get back to walking and riding. I find that when I walk/ride in silence, I often can solve my story’s problems. Often, I get new ideas.  Just by sitting back and observing others and listening to myself/nothing/the world, I often figure out what to write next. 

This is what I love about summer. Everyone is out. There are opportunities for eavesdropping. And I LOVE watching old people kiss on the beach.

But it is also a challenging time in terms of writing. In other words: the kids are coming home!

Don’t get me wrong: I love when the kids are here. College (and marriage and grad school) are changing them in all kinds of good ways. When they are in the house, there is more to do: more cooking, more relaxing, more outings, and more downtime with them. More catching up. All good things!!

Except when do I get my writing done? (Let’s not even get into my yoga schedule!)

That’s why, today, I want to talk about summer goals. Today, writers, I am going to challenge you to get your summer off to a great start!

Start with a calendar. And be HONEST. 

I write down all the visits and trips first. Then I ask: Will there be writing time? 

An hour? A half day? How about 15 minutes in the morning?

Even if that is all you have, commit to it.

Sometimes, however, the answer is NO. There will be NO writing time. 

If there is no time–if your kids need you or you have new responsibilities, or you are going on a magnificent vacation, no worries!

Just because you are a writer does not mean you can’t take an intentional break. I remember the first time I told Tim Wynne-Jones that I write 365days a year. He looked at me like I was crazy. I think he said, “Haven’t I taught you anything?

Take a break!

Let the ideas simmer!”

The first time I did it, I was scared. I was sure I would lose my ability to write a single word ever again for the rest of my life. (Yes, I can be dramatic.)  But when the vacation was over, and I sat down, I had new ideas. And a lot more energy for the project I wanted to start. I was inspired. (It’s also nice not to feel distracted all the time!)

Here are some tips to help you stay focused on your projects and writing life without having to ignore your responsibilities/kids/husband/beach/yoga class/fabulous vacation:

CARRY A JOURNAL….everywhere. That vacation may inspire observations that can go into a book. Jot them down and go back to whatever you were doing. If people ask what you are doing, tell them! When people find out I’m a writer, they always share GREAT stories.

READ. BINGE READ. READ OUT LOUD. Reading (in or out of genre) is the best way I know to get used to playing with words . . . and helping to find my voice.

GET THE KIDS INVOLVED! One summer, my daughter wrote book reviews for the local Indie bookstore. (Writing time!) Another summer, we each wrote a story and had a reading. It was fun! We made cupcakes!

I know people who have bound books with their kids, too. 

And if none of these things will work?  ENJOY YOURSELF. No regrets. The writing life is a long one. Open your eyes and ears and have an experience. Talk about it with others. Take (safe) chances. Kiss the kids! They never stay as long as you want them to.

DON’T FEEL GUILTY. You are still a writer!!!!  Listen. Look around. Observe gestures and listen to syntax and look for interesting places in your world. 

And if inspiration hits, the kids will understand. Tell them, today Mom is a writer, and go into your office and WRITE. 


Sarah Aronson grapples with guilt on a regular basis, but not when it comes to writing! 

Sarah Aronson
  1. Happy Summer to everyone! Great post, Sarah, thank you! I’ll be (trying) writing a lot this summer . . . revisions on Book 2 of my new YA trilogy (first book debuts in November) and fingers crossed I can get a good start on drafting Book 3! I tend to bite off more than I can chew though . . . 🙂

  2. Nice post, Sarah! Thanks for the tips, and the excuses not to write sometimes 🙂