I don't know about you, but transitioning from the dog days of summer to the rush of September has taken a bit of adjusting.
The final weeks of summer, for me, mean a week volunteering at a bereavement camp. In between the activities, the camp organizers give the staff plenty of time to lounge in bathing suits on the farmhouse lawn, listening to music after taking a long swim in the lake. Those moments which seem to extend for hours and demand nothing, sit in sharp contrast to schedules, Skype meetings, traffic and...yes...deadlines.
For many writers, this might be the time again when you need to create a writing schedule that fits into your work life. Here are a few tips. Please add your tips to the comments section to help others along.
1. Start Slow
If you have not been writing in several weeks, do not expect that you will be able to sit for six hours and crank out a few thousand words. Think of writing like exercise. When you have stopped for awhile you need to start slowly, because you may no longer have the stamina and you may burn out. Start with just short sessions. I also don't want to you get frustrated with yourselves or beat yourself up. This leads to tip 2.
2. Forgive yourself for what you did not accomplish this summer
Via Skype, I coached a woman in Tanzania on her thesis. I realized in just five minutes that the most stressful part of the thesis for her was believing that she should be further ahead than she was. No matter what she started doing she would tell herself, "I should have started this months ago."
I told her to let it go. Just drop those thoughts and say, "I'm at the perfect place at the perfect time." This releases the stress and allows you to get back to work. So, if you must, take five minutes and beat yourself up for summer failures and then drop it...for good. It does not matter and self criticism can really just be a way to stall.
3. Grab a Buddy
I always advocate for writing buddies. Mine have been especially critical these past two weeks getting back to work. Writing can be a lonely business and having that friend next to you for breaks (strolls, coffee, lunch) really helps. A writing buddy helps me write for longer periods and check my email and Facebook less often. I don't need to seek human connection every 20 minutes, if I know my friend and I will take a walk in 45 minutes.
With summer closed,
Sarah Federman, PhD