Look, summer presents unique challenges to writers, doesn’t it? By July, everyone’s deep into their vacations, children are running riot while out of school, family streams in and out in a series of reunions, and … it can be hard to continue writing.
Of course … there are remedies. And this week, I suggest trying your hand at a schedule––and then, of all things, sticking to it!
Now, those who know me well know that I’m not aways given over to structured practicalities and organizational tricks. I know how to kick back and relax, especially in summer. After all, if you work in publishing or with authors, as I do, you’ll know that victories are hard-won and well worth celebrating! So … don’t take this as heavy-handed pontification from someone who’s eminently hypocritical. I often suggest many things which I do not myself do all the time, since I’m as firm a believer in changing the habits to fit the situation as I am that success in self-publishing is the nexus of persistence, skill, and good luck.
I recommend schedules for everyone. If not for always, than for a season––and there’s no better season to try your hand at scheduling in summer, when the emotional, physical, and social stakes are so high … and very little writing is getting done anyways, so why not try a new approach? You may be writing by a pool with a mimosa at your side, but you can still work a schedule like nobody’s business, and churn out more writing than you would otherwise. Anyone with a plan can make it work!
Oh … but a plan? How do I come up with one of those?
Here’s where I get a little bit … experimental. As the first step to developing a schedule, I recommend starting a bullet journal. You have probably heard this term before, and associated it with highly neurotic, organized, possibly even OCD? people with phenomenal artistic skills. I sure did, and refused to start a bullet journal, until I dug into a great conversation at the local library with a young mother named Melissa.
Melissa bullet journals. No surprise there! But wow, she has zero artistic skills. I mean, not a single artistic bone in her body! She was a bit reticent to show me her bullet journal, since she felt insecure about the lettering and such, but I was eventually able to persuade her. And I was incredibly impressed! Melissa has gotten to the heart of what a bullet journal is all about, which is to say, she started hers with lists––shopping lists, to-do lists, etc––and by tracking the little things she does throughout the day. Then she took it one step further and started to set goals … once she knew what her days usually already looked like, and what was feasible.
That, my friends and dear readers, is the value of a bullet journal. It can eventually help you shape behaviors, yes, but first it shows you what you already do––and therefore, what you’re already good at, and maybe some areas to work on. It’s like Google Analytics, but for a person’s daily productivity!
You can put a bullet journal to work describing your days and then use the data you gather––when meals happen, what they look like, how many hours you’re sleeping a night, what your weekly and daily commitments look like and how they change in the summer––to transform or tweak your schedule just a little to squeak some more writing in. Poolside, or otherwise.
It’s all about sustainability. Radically altering your writing behaviors without a plan just isn’t a good idea––and it isn’t, ultimately, sustainable. Small changes are great, however, and over time you can build one change upon another until your summers are your most productive months, rather than the opposite! But it starts with knowing where you are, first.
If you’re looking for insight into bullet journaling, hop on Google or YouTube! There are literally thousands of them out there, but beware: many are a bit deceiving, touting life-altering effects and demonstrating uncannily beautiful hand lettering skills. You don’t have to make all the big changes at once, and you don’t need to be a gifted artist to figure out a better summer schedule by bullet journaling!
Still, here’s a quick snippet to get you started:
You are not alone. ♣︎