During the school year, Time is one of our biggest hurdles. There is never enough time to do all the things. Summer is a fantasy with its long, light, unencumbered days spread out before us. We plan road trips and brewery crawls and projects and beach days and fill our calendar with all the things we aren’t able to do during the crazy-busy school year.
Summer feels expansive, yet we all know the feeling of a summer that’s come and gone in the blink of an eye. Don’t we still find ourselves saying, “There are not enough hours in the day…?” as we stare at the piles of unfinished projects in September, the friends we wanted so badly to visit but didn’t have time to, the cleaning that never got done.
This summer at Moving Writers we’ve committed to making time to write every day, to build a summer writing practice. We all have different reasons for being here, for pushing ourselves to write this summer. But the promise we’ve made to ourselves is the same: to make time for writing.
Today on the blog I’m sharing a few hacks to help make this your writing-est summer yet. Whether you have children who will be home with you all day, or lists and lists of projects galore, you may find yourself needing a little bit of help to reach your writing goal so you’re not looking back on summer in September thinking, “Where did the time go?”
Share these hacks with the students who will be joining you, too, and solicit their ideas for ways to beat the summer lazies and put pen to paper.
1.Make the Notes app the only app on your Home Screen.
This year I have been searching for ways to increase my reading time, so I followed a suggestion from the Lazy Genius podcast of shifting the contents of my phone to make the Kindle app the only app on my Home Screen.
This hack can easily be converted to a writing goal: move all your apps off the Home Screen except for your Notes app. Even if you don’t write in your Notes app, the yellow and white notepad icon will be a reminder to you that you should be writing instead of surfing the Internet, scrolling Instagram, or shopping at the Facebook Marketplace. If you DO use the Notes app to write or plan for writing, it’s there, in plain view, beckoning your words.
2. Make a waterproof writing kit, and take it everywhere.
In the summertime, next to suntan lotion, our fleet of tote bags is my family’s most prized possession. Beach bags, road trip bags, quiet-activities-for-church bags, going-to-grandma’s-house bags. I have my diaper backpack that I wear whenever I have my kids with me, an oversized pocketbook for when I’m running errands without the kids, and a few crossbody bags for miscellaneous trips. It’s helpful having lots of different bags for different occasions and purposes, but I never fail to forget to transfer some of the most important stuff from bag to bag. How many times have I showed up to pay for my groceries only to realize I left my wallet in the OTHER bag? How many times have I reached for my Writer’s Notebok only to realize I left it in my backpack?
Not have the “write” tools really stinks when you want to write and have time to write. Making a waterproof writing kit that can move with me wherever I go has helped. Grab a gallon-sized Ziplock bag and fill it with the following: your Writer’s Notebook, several pens, and a snack. Then stick a reminder on your front door that says writing kit, and remember to transfer it to whatever bag or car you are using that day so you always have it with you. The Ziplock bag keeps everything together and also waterproofs it for poolside jottings! Pro tip: make a few of these writing kits and stash them in the car, in multiple bags, etc. Instead of buying multiple Writer’s Notebooks, throw in a sticky note pad or a few index cards that can be later taped into your notebook.
3. Make travel writing cards. This hack is courtesy of Elizabeth Matheny, who shared her why-I’m-writing-this-summer manifesto on the blog yesterday. I love her low-tech tip for bringing the writing inspiration with you wherever you go:
4. Set out your journal with your coffee the night before.
This is a simple hack, but sometimes the simplest tricks help the most. Many of us like to set out the next day’s learning materials before we leave school in the afternoon–to hang the blank poster, set out the markers, leave the Read Aloud with the right page bookmarked on the chalk sill. Consider prepping your home morning space the night before as you do your classroom: if you’re a coffee drinker, fill the percolator with water and grinds so all you have to do is touch a button. Leave out your mug, and place your Writer’s Notebook next to the mug. Let coffee and writing be the first two steps in your morning rhythm, and consider getting up a little bit earlier than everyone else in your household to ensure a quiet writing sanctuary.
5. Use the Commit app to commit.
If you are app-inclined, checked out Commit, an app designed to help you commit to your goals. Here’s a quick review about how it works.
6. Join a silent writing community, such as #silentwriters or #5amwritersclub or… #100DOSW18!!!
If you’ve ever heard of Silent Book Clubs, you know they are the perfect design for introverts who seek connection and are trying to carve out time for something that deeply matters to them: reading. The silent writing club is a riff on this idea for writers. Join one of these, or start your own.
7. Create a writing playlist.
This is one of Rebekah’s hacks that we use with our students in workshop classes. Many students — and adults — enjoy listening to music while they write. But when your phone is the source of your music, it can become a major distraction. When you create an intentional writing playlist, set it, and then turn your phone over, you eliminate the need to search for the next best song to keep your writing juices flowing. You can create multiple playlists if you want to, but the point is: cultivate a list of songs that soothe your writing soul so you don’t have to waste time searching for them when you should be writing. Label them Writing Playlist #1, Writing Playlist #2, etc., and listen to them only when you write so you come to associate that music with productive writing time.
8. Plan before you write.
The blank page has always been intimidating, but it’s even more so when we’re short on time, when we’ve given ourselves 10 or 20 minutes to write, and four minutes in, we’re still thinking, our page still white. One way to combat this waiting-for-ideas time is to plan ahead, to rehearse the writing you might do later, so when you do finally sit down with your notebook, you’ve already thought of the first line.
Consider rehearsing ideas for the writing you’ll do later while you’re brushing your teeth or taking a shower–activities that take place in the morning when we’re fresh or at night when we’re reflecting. Hang a few writing prompts from the #100DOSW18 slide deck in your shower in a Ziplock bag, or post them by your bathroom mirror, so you can mull them over and start planning for the writing you’re going to do later.
If you like this idea, you might even treat yourself to this waterproof notepad for your shower musings. Might be fun to raffle one of these off on the last day of school!
9. Physically hide your daily tasks underneath your writing tasks.
If you use a paper planner, consider covering up your daily events and tasks with a tiny sticky note that contains your writing plan for the day. You could put “writing time” on the sticky note, or if you’re a real planner, you might choose the prompts ahead of time and list them out on the sticky notes. The idea is that you can’t get cracking at the stuff of your day until you do the most important thing first — write. And then savor the joy of peeling back that sticky note and tossing it into the trash once you’ve finished. It’s like a little writing advent calendar.