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Staying Motivated in the Summertime
by Cheryl Sloan Wray
Summer means different things to different
people: family vacations, lazy days by the pool, outdoor barbecues with family
and friends, children home from school. For many freelance writers, summer can
also mean a slowdown in productivity. The culprits may be children under foot, a
casual summer attitude, or a busy schedule filled with vacations and extra
activities; whatever the culprit, though, it's a summer fact that the season is
the hardest for staying motivated and productive as a writer.
There are ways, however, to battle this summer
problem. By getting organized, finding support, and being creative, you can make
summer one of your most productive writing seasons of the year.
As the weather gets hotter and you find it
harder to find the motivation to write, consider some of these ways to make it
* Set up a Summer Writing Schedule. You may have
to readjust your writing schedule in the summer, due to children at home or
vacations away from the office. Just because you have other things demanding
your attention, however, doesnt mean you can stop writing. Novelist Denise
Turney says she gets up before her son does each morning and also writes at
night. "I condition myself to write a certain amount of time each day,
regardless of whats going on around me," she says.
* Write on the Go. You say its harder to write
during the summer, because special activities demand more of your time? An easy
solution is to take your writing with you. If youre going on a long car trip,
take a notebook with you and work on projects. If youre kids are dying to spend
a day at the pool, work while theyre playing. Freelance writer Hannah Hayes
says that her young son "was pleased last summer that I traveled to his ball
games and the park with his friends with my laptop. He's at an age now when he's
proud of my byline." Hayes also recommends taking a cell phone with you when you
write on the go; it makes it easy to check messages and schedule interviews.
* Set Summertime Writing Goals. Setting goals is
one of the best ways to stay motivated and be productive as a writer. With
summer here, adjust your goals to fit your summertime schedule. But, even if
your goals are smaller, make sure you stick to them.
* Ask for Help. Writing may be a basically
solitary job, but that doesnt mean you cant use some help to make it easier to
accomplish. If you find it hard to write with kids at home, ask for help for at
least part of a day or week. "I volunteer to watch other kids one to two days a
week and I get a LOT more writing time in," says Shirley Kawa Jump, a romance
novelist and magazine writer. "The other kids (who are my two kids' best
friends) keep my kids busy longer and keep them from fighting. I put out some
Play-Doh or fill the pool or make some cookies and I buy at least an
* Consider your Local Newspaper. Summer is often
a difficult time for many publications, simply because many of their staff
writers take vacation time. Perhaps you could help them out by providing needed
copy? Freelance writer Kathleen McKernan says that summertime has expanded her
writing repertoire and given her valuable clips. "Summer is a great time to
freelance, especially for publications with staff writers. Their staff writers
take vacations, but they still have space to fill," McKernan says. "I've gotten
my share of front-page newspaper stories during the summer."
* Write on Summer Topics. In looking at past
summers, I see that I have written articles on such topics as: summer learning
activities for kids, traveling to Disney World, local summer festivals, safety
in the summertime sun, and favorite beaches. Consider everything you do and
everywhere you go in the summer as a source for writing ideas.
Write on Non Summer Topics. Because so many
publications work ahead of time (six months ahead, oftentimes), summer is the
perfect time to write on out of season topics. So, while the temperature is
climbing outside, consider ideas you can write about Christmas or cold weather.
Freelance writer Kathryn Lay says that Fall is often her best paying time of the
year, because she is being paid for all of the thing she wrote during the
summer. "I actually have much more time to write in the summer because I get a
break from homeschooling my children, and I tend to get lots sent out," she
says. "It is a great time for Christmas stories and such."
Attend a Summer Writing Workshop. Summer is a
great time to meet and network with other writers at workshops and conferences.
As an organizer of and speaker at the Southern Christian Writers Conference held
every summer in June, I get the chance to encourage other writers; they go home
refreshed and motivated for the rest of the summer.
This summer, challenge yourself to make the
season one of your most productive writing seasons ever. Promise yourself that,
come September or October, youll be able to look back at this past summer and
have fond memories... not just of that great family vacation or that day spent
at the park, but of the completed writing projects and productive writing days
you were able to enjoy.
© Copyright 2002, Cheryl Sloan Wray
Cheryl Sloan Wray is a freelancer writer with more than 1000 articles to her credit. She is also the author of Writing for Magazines (McGraw-Hill), a popular guide for freelancers.
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