Friday, July 16, 2021

On Writing in the Summer or...Not Writing in the Summer

 Every book on writing will tell you the same thing: you should do it daily. Set a word count goal, a minute goal, a page goal, and then stick to it. Be strict about writing daily. 

I suck at this.

In seasons when my kids attended school...I'm talking IN-PERSON school...I could set up a daily schedule and pretty much stick to it. I would write early and then maybe even get in a little editing just before the buses started circling the cul-de-sac, bringing my children home in the afternoon. 

i never realized how much i love that big, yellow bus

Virtual learning was a challenge but I found a rocky rhythm that made writing *almost* daily possible. The kids' time in classes would overlap for a couple of hours and I would take advantage of that time to shower and/or write. I missed a day here and there, but we were living through a pandemic so I tried to cut myself some slack. There were even some weekends that I managed to sneak away to write at my desk or sit amid the chaos of family life with a notebook on my lap trying to see where a story would go. It wasn't easy, but it was possible. 

This summer writing has felt impossible.

While the pandemic is not completely over, life has returned to semi-normal for my vaccinated family. And, after a year of being stuck at home, we want to go out and do all the things. There are camps and classes, friends coming over and time spent at friends' houses, big two-week vacations, and little weekend getaways. We use the standard response of improv when asked if we can commit to any new fun thing, we say, "Yes, and..." We add trips to get ice cream, baking projects when the friends come over, and any other fun and exciting thing we can do to augment the life in our days.

ice cream at the pool? yes, please!
And we barely make it to our beds at night, exhausted by all the living we did during the day. 

I am glad for this season and when I look back at this summer I'm sure I will be amazed at all the things we did. This is what it feels like to embrace life, I think. But my writing suffers for it. 

Routines change weekly and the time I set aside with the best intentions for writing invariably ends up being spent in a meaningful conversation with one of my kids or on a quick clean-up of the house which has also been neglected or driving a carful of teens and preteens to a pool. 

This week I'm going to try to change things up. I will have a few hours in a coffee shop and I will use them to write...even though I detest writing in public. Hopefully, this week will kick start my summer writing habits and I will get back into some semblance of a routine before fall. 

My husband wonders sometimes why I stress so much about writing every day (or at least every weekday). I always give him the same answer. The main reason I'm focused on adding writing time into my daily schedule is that it's good for me. It feels like a long exhale after it's done. My muscles relax as I feel the freedom that comes with knowing I've reached inside of my brain and pulled out something creative, emotional, or silly. Writing makes me feel alive and like I am a contributing member to the world of words I love so much. 

in the zone

 Don't get me wrong, writing isn't always easy or pain-free, but in the end, I feel unburdened in the best possible way and that frees me up for more living. 

What life-giving habit do you need to make more time for in this season?

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