By: Katie McMorris ’17
If you’re anything like me, your first month or so of summer probably included the following: sleeping, eating, Netflix, then back again to sleeping. After spending the last two semesters constantly producing new material, you deserve a break; however, sometimes that break seems to last until the end of August. For Creative Writing majors and minors, it’s important to stay disciplined during the summer. This post aims to provide my fellow writers out there with some solid advice on how to stay motivated during the summer:
1. Get out of Your Room
As tempting as the comfort of your room may seem, inspiration comes from stepping out of your comfort zone and discovering new places. To keep writing during the summer, you have to find new ideas. If you’re living somewhere new for the summer, talk to locals about the must-see attractions but also the “hidden gems.” If you’re living in a familiar area, check out a place you always wanted to visit but never did. Art museums, libraries, quirky restaurants, or that statue downtown that reminds you of French fries all make good writing destinations. Because if you stay in your room all summer, all your poems will end up being about that pile of clothes you still haven’t washed since May
2. Attend Writing-Related Events
While I do not support copious amounts of internet time during the summer, I recommend Google for this one. Search for poetry slams, open mic nights, book signings, and writing workshops in your area. Nothing gets you more motivated than hearing and meeting with others who share your talents and passions.
3. Have a Writing Partner(s)
In most Creative Writing classes, you workshop your pieces with your classmates. Without classmates readily available, it can be tricky finding others to read your work. By having a Writing Partner, you can share your work and stay on a schedule. For example, if you say you will exchange work on the second and fourth Friday of every month, you have to uphold that. A Writing Partner keeps you accountable for your writing (shout out to Liz Ensink and Nathaniel Nelson for being my Writing Partners).
4. Give Yourself Deadlines AND Rewards
During the school year, adhering to deadlines means you won’t receive a lower grade simply for turning in the assignment late. Without an incentive during the summer, it becomes difficult to produce work in a timely and consistent manner. What I recommend is a deadline-reward system: set yourself deadlines, but then reward yourself when you accomplish your goals. For example, one completed poem could equal one episode of The Office.
5. When in Doubt, Read
My final piece of advice might sound cliché, but I honestly believe that reading is one of the most crucial ways to stay motivated. By reading consistently, we gain more knowledge, inspiration, and motivation to produce work equally as good. If you don’t feel motivated to read, check out a Summer Reading Program at your local library. These usually include prizes as an incentive to keep you reading. And if you can’t find the perfect book, check out a nonfiction book on something you know nothing about. For all you know, novelty architecture could be your hidden obsession.
While I recognize that these five steps cannot physically lift your fingers to the computer or notebook to begin writing, I hope they encourage you to stay motivated for the next few months. And for those of you who are not Creative Writing majors or minors but are working on a research project or textbook, I believe you can apply these in your own way as well. Modify these steps to fit you and your writing schedule.
So let’s log off Facebook, get comfortable, and start writing!