Friday, May 21, 2010

Summer Writing

Myth: Creative, academic types have three months of pure, vacation bliss every summer.

Fact: The summer is when we hunker down to do our own writing and often continue to teach a few classes in order to pay our rent and keep ourselves honest.

As I wrote yesterday, the real work and fun begins in the summer. We love what we do and enjoy it – what else would compel us to continue to write against the odds? When that quarter of a piece of paper comes in the mail with another pre-printed rejected note, it can be difficult to muster the strength to continue on.

But of course we do. Writing is work and play rolled into one crispy-on-the-outside,-soft-in-the-middle fry. It is invigorating, bad for you, addicting and an inspiring, golden color. And you can’t eat just one.

It can be difficult to effectively organize your time if you have a wide expanse available to you. I have luck nibbling on the various aspects of the writing life each day. For example, I’ll spend some time reading literary magazines and books, then turn my eye to submissions management and later settle into writing and editing particular projects. A few minutes is usually dedicated to organizing the work that I’ve done, as well. By giving myself a time limit on each aspect, I can ensure that I won’t find that an entire day has passed without, say, reading. I am also someone who likes diversity in my day; others have more success spending an entire day writing and the next day reading.

I usually teach a class or two in the summer and the lighter load allows me to read, write and revise as much as possible. I find that teaching helps to keep my editing eye sharp and honest as I answer student questions about writing issues I might have forgotten to consider. I find that my own creative work is inspired by the students’ questions and the readings I assign. And of course, it helps to pay the bills.

Summer is a great time to attend a writing residency or conference, although many of those deadlines have passed this late in the spring. Now is a great time to find the ones you are interested in for next year and make a calendar of deadlines.

What projects will you work on this summer?

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