When summer hits, writing often takes a backseat to vacations, playing with your kids, and keeping up with all the summer fun. Even if it’s hard to find time to write, you can still nurture your craft by gathering inspiration for your writing. And guess what? This counts as writing because you can't write if you have no ideas and no material.
Writing, contrary to popular opinion, doesn't happen by materializing words from your mind onto a blank page. It happens as you live your life, make observations, feel all the feelings, and pay attention to the stories around you. Sitting down and putting it on paper is sort of the last step in the writing process actually.
This act of gathering (as I like to call it) can happen anywhere, at any time: chasing your toddler on the playground, folding laundry, visiting with your in-laws. The only thing that makes it gathering and not just regular life is you. What are you paying attention to? Are you looking for some kind of specific inspiration? Are you looking for ideas related to one story or just general ideas and inspiration?
Here are a few tips to make your gathering most effective:
1. In a small notebook, write down one plot hole, problem, character, etc... from your current WIP that you want to mull over. Then keep the notebook with you throughout your day and pay attention to opportunities to look for ideas or solutions to your problem.
2. Focus on gathering inspiration for specific things. Are you looking to write more natural dialogue? Listen to conversations in the park. Are you wanting to get better at descriptions? Practice describing things that you see as you drive or even as you do chores around your house.
3. At some point using the week, jot down your ideas and inspirations. It doesn't have to be long or fancy, just a few sentences about what your inspirations and ideas of the day or week were. This will keep you focused on what you are gathering and help you remember those simple moments of inspiration you had.
Here are some other great ways to incorporate writing into a busy summer schedule:
- Write with your kids. Check out the post "How to Write a Story With Your Kid"for inspiration. You can also make maps of imaginary worlds (or real ones) with your kids. Use this time to have fun with your kids while getting in some of your own world building. See this postfor ideas.
- Take an intentional break from writing. Not writing isn't always a bad thing. Turning off the laptop, the guilt, and the spinning writing to do list in your head can actually help make you more productive during the writing session you manage to squeeze in. So set aside a few days or so to not write on purpose.
- Go on a writing retreat. Summer isn't just a break for the kids. It can also be a break for you. Schedule an in-town writing retreat for yourself at least once this summer. It can be as simple as spending a full day at your favorite coffee shop or as elaborate as a quiet hotel room all to yourself to write. Read this post, this post, and this post for inspiration.
Struggle to fit writing into your schedule even when it isn't summer? I feel ya. That's why I created the Build Your Writing Life Course. It runs August 1st, 2018-August 31st, 2018. For more info, click here.