Some of my kids have already finished the school year, the remaining ones will finish tomorrow. Summer has officially started.
And that means that I will reluctantly move into my least productive time of year with regard to writing. Between shuttling the kids to and from swim team practice, being interrupted because they want to know if they can go over a friend’s house, watching movies as a family in the evenings, and having to stop my work to give a driver money for (yet) more Popsicles, it starts to wear on you and it definitely breaks any train of thought.
I don’t know about you but without dedicated focus, I can’t write.
During the school year I get a good 4 to 5 hours of writing time each school day. When I shut the door to my office it stays shut until the kids start coming home in the afternoon. No one interrupts me (except of course for the dogs who announce the arrival of the mailman.) and I get to write to my heart’s content.
But not so when school lets out. It’s always the same and yet every summer I go into it with great hopes and expectations. Every year I think, this is going to be the summer when I really get things done. This is the summer I’m going to write that manuscript and get those large national articles out because when you think about it, Summer is the best time of year to write – I don’t have to put on layers of fleece and I don’t have to wear those Bob Cratchett gloves to keep my hands warm, I just have to be and think and write. Couldn’t be easier right?
Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with my kids and I adore the fact that I have a job flexible enough it allows me to attend swim meets and impromptu ice cream trips, it’s just that I also like being able to contribute something to the world. I like being able to write.
And if I go too long without writing I tend to get cranky. And when a writer ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. Let’s just say you probably don’t want to meet me for the first time toward the end of summer vacation when I haven’t had the time to accomplish what I hoped I would.
This summer, though, I am determined to change things around. My kids are older and among the 6 of them we will have 3 extra drivers this year. The girls have figured out how to entertain themselves by playing with each other, neighborhood kids or inviting friends over. I don’t need to be around mu kids all day long. They’ve learned how to be independent. How to take care of themselves.
This is one time when it feels good not to be needed by my kids.
This summer I plan on setting up a schedule for writing. On the weekdays I’m going to pack up my computer and head out to the local library for 2 solid hours to work exclusively on my manuscript.
I’m going to keep a list of goals for the day and for the week. I’ll be checking this list as often as my kids will be opening the refrigerator door.
When the kids are downstairs watching the Disney Channel, I’m going to go upstairs to bang out an article or a blog post. Divide and conquer. If I take a few steps each day by the end of the summer I should be at my goal.
In short, I’m going to put my needs, not above, but certainly equal with those of my kids. I’m going to count too this summer. They’ll be happy that their mom is contributing and I’ll be happy that their mom is contributing. Win-win.
With a little bit of luck and perseverance, who knows? Maybe this WILL be the summer I finally get that manuscript out.
How are you going to make sure you continue writing once the kids are out of school?
Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.
Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens).
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