The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.
— Chinese Proverb
Finish Your Book Now, Not Later
I do believe there are seasons in our writing lives.
Sometimes we’re actively engaged in a longer writing project with characters we just can’t shake, and sometimes we’re working in fragments or individual pieces.
Sometimes we struggle, and sometimes the words flow easily as soon as we settle down to write.
In the Northern hemisphere, we’re now heading into our summer months. (THANK ALL THE GODS!) Even the busiest of us [points to self] begin to sloooow down just a little, take it easy and make plans for how we’re going to maximize time at the lake, or at a music festival with friends, or just a picnic in the park.
But if you’ve got an active writing project that needs to be finished, I want to suggest that NOW is the time to look for ways to fit more writing time into your weekly schedule in order to gain some momentum on your book.
And if you’re part-way through a book-length project, I do think it's feasible for you to use July and August to finish up your complete first draft.
Here’s are 6 ways I think you can make this work:
Use Longer Days to Finish Your Book
The days are longer now. Sunrise is just after 5am, and the sun doesn’t set until well after 8pm. This provides a well-lit few hours in the mornings. Why not rise two hours earlier than the rest of the house and get in some good writing time before the day starts? This has the added advantage of
Use Kids on Holiday to Finish Your Book
What?? Yes, they’re off school these months and that can either be something that makes you completely frantic as you try to figure out how to manage without the built-in childcare that school provides… OR you can register the gang for summer camps and/or let the kids have playdates at their friends’ houses and time to run around outside together while you settle in at your desk, or on the patio, with a glass of ice-cold lemonade and get in some writing pages while the kids enjoy themselves.
Use Family Gatherings to Finish Your Book
Going to the cottage with family, or travelling somewhere for a family reunion? I completely understand how that might leave you feeling there’s just no way to fit writing in. But you could rise in the early hours before the rest of the family gathers and write then, and/or you can swap childcare and food prep duties with other family members – you make the salads, prepare the BBQ and set the table for dinner today, and they swap off with you tomorrow so you can steal away with your notebook and get in a 45 minute writing session before dinner.
Use Vacation Trips to Finish Your Book
Travelling? Again, rising early before the day starts is an option – then your fun excursions and some delicious food can be rewards for getting the writing time in. If you’re travelling with people, tell your travelling companions you’ll just need an hour to yourself every day to get some writing done and then make extra time to take your notebook into the museum café or write in local cafes soaking up some local colour as you write. No one can begrudge you an hour a day to yourself, and time apart from the gang can make group vacations run all that much more smoothly. (And aren’t you a better friend, partner, parent and travel companion when you’re able to have your own needs met?)
Use Slow Days at the Office to Finish Your Book
The pace at work inevitably slows as people take vacation in July and August. Use the opportunity to bring your notebook or laptop to the office and head out by yourself for lunch a couple of times a week to get some writing time in.
Use Air Conditioned Comfort to Finish Your Book
If you’re finding the heat an issue – friends in parts of India come to mind! – then take advantage of the air conditioning at a local Café Coffee Day or other café to enjoy the cool comfort of an air conditioned space. Bring headphones and settle in with an iced coffee or chai latte for a long writing session a couple times a week.
Of course, if you’re in the Southern hemisphere then you are in your winter months and then the goal is to stay as cosy as possible – but the tricks around securing writing time for yourself are not that different. If you have trouble rising early in the cooler, darker months, consider setting up some rewards for yourself so that as you meet your word count, you can then enjoy a glass of wine by the fire or a hot yoga session.
And if you are reading this in moderate or tropical climes where the weather is always gorgeous and seasonal variations don’t play havoc with people’s schedules, then…what’s your excuse exactly? Look at your calendar and book in one additional Long Time writing session this week and every week.
Don’t let the seasonal change be a reason to let yet another two months or more pass by without making progress on your writing.
I encourage you to check out last week’s post on forms of accountability as well and to consider how you can use July and August to make real headway on your current writing project and possibly even finish your book.
And if you’re interested in having some further support in that process, then I’m excited to let you know that I am offering a free live Masterclass on exactly this topic:
How to Finally Finish Your Book…without all the anxiety, voices of self-doubt, and worry about how it all fits together — or getting completely derailed by Real Life.