Friday, June 25, 2010

Summer Survival Strategies for Writers

By Kim

Summer is here. The days are hot, the children are free, and my writing…well, let’s just say not a heck of a lot of it gets done. While I rarely have more than five uninterrupted minutes at my keyboard, images from my story and conversations between my characters still haunt me. As I’m sure many other writers with children can attest, it’s easy to get frustrated and resentful when kept from our work, from our daydreams, and from the peace and quiet so many of us require.

Last year I put little thought into how I was going to make it through the summer holidays. Even though most days I only had one of my two bundles of joy at home, I wound up longing for a solitary vacation within the first few weeks. This year I’ve come up with a survival strategy that I hope will allow me to keep my sanity, get a little work done, and keep my family happy.

I will accept the fact that it will be impossible to write every day and that some days I shouldn’t even try. Nap time is officially a thing of the past in the Bullock household and my office is, for all practical purposes, in the same room as the television and game consoles. I have a choice - sit at the computer and stew about my inability to concentrate over the theme song from The Wonder Pets or sort laundry in the relative peace of my bedroom. This year I will choose the latter.

I will involve my four-year-old in chores. She wants to help and those days where she thinks it is fun to help mom empty the dishwasher and dust furniture are limited. Who knows, maybe if she actively helps prepare dinner, she may even be inclined to eat some of it.

I will bribe my eight-year-old to entertain her sister. It may at least allow me to get my blog posts done.

I will relax and enjoy my family on our vacation to Italy this summer with no plans to get anything done beyond exploring villages, watching my older daughter’s face light up (like mine) at the history of the buildings while my younger one dashes up every set of stairs she finds. Of course, this will all partly depend on my husband’s (questionable) ability to drive a stick-shift.

On those days when I can’t work, I’ll do related things from which I can be painlessly interrupted. I can transcribe old letters and update my website. Even painting alongside my children can be considered “research.”

I will not feel guilty for putting one child in day camp and the other in summer school for part of the vacation. I will make writing a priority on those days.

I will not feel pressure to keep the house spotless. Wait, I never do that anyway!

How about you? Leave a comment and share your strategies for keeping the muse happy during the summer holidays.


  1. Make a weekly goal instead of a daily goal. It's easier to catch up when the moments are available instead of beating yourself up for not doing that very day what you thought you should accomplish. This has helped me a LOT lately. (Even if it's not word count goal for you, Kim, but other types of writing goals.) Actually having the goal keeps me going, too, or the time just gets completely away from me while I waste all of it worrying about not having any.

  2. I'm having a tough time with this as well. Is it wrong to count the days until September?

  3. Anonymous02 July, 2010

    Hi Kim. You are going to Italy? Which part? I hope you have an amazing time and I hope we get to hear about it.

    Your girls are so lovely. It must be tremendously difficult to work at home during the Summer, especially in the same room as the TV. It seems like you have a good game plan and the appropriate attitude of acceptance for the difficulties you will have to face. It is better to accept some limitations than to be frustrated all of the time. I hope you are sufficiently productive in spite of those pitfalls.

    I bet it is quite a tug of war in your heart. You will probably miss them when school starts and feel somewhat relieved as well.


  4. Julie - starting next week Sasha's in day camp and Ashlyn's in summer school. I accept I'll get nothing done until then.

    Kristi - no - I'm counting the days as well now that I'm back from Italy.

    Katrina - I'll e-mail you!


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