Monday, May 23, 2016

Turning my Summer Hiatus into a Writing Oasis

Since I left my ‘day job’ three years ago, I’ve done most of my writing in the hours that my daughter is at school. Spending time with her is my priority, so I have from the time I shower after the gym in the morning until the bus rolls back by in the afternoon. Well, my daughter officially has three days left in this school year. That means time for me will be nearly nonexistent. In previous summers, she was in gymnastics 9 hours a week. While that didn’t give me much time to write, it did give me time to get the grocery shopping done and all those other errands she deemed too boring to (willingly) participate in. She’s decided to leave competitive gymnastics, so now I don’t even have that time to adult.

I think I need a new plan. One that will transform my summer from a hiatus into an oasis.

Theoretically, I could write while she’s home. She’s old enough to entertain herself and even make herself lunch on occasion. But her idea of entertainment is constantly streaming episodes on Netflix and gorging out on candy. That means I actually have to plan things for us to do if I don’t want her to turn into a zombie strung out on sugar. And there is the whole thing about me actually wanting to spend time with her. I mean, in three years she’ll be a teenager and won’t want me around anymore. I need to take advantage while I can!

The past few years my writing basically stopped over the summer, with the exception of a few blog posts. It worked out OK since was able to get my books published before summer arrived. This is the first summer since I decided to remain home full-time where I’m working on a novel. I can’t afford to take an entire summer off writing.

I decided the best approach would be to find ways to integrate some important aspects of my writing life with my mommy life.

Any author will tell you how important reading is when it comes to improving our craft. I love to read, and thankfully so does my daughter. This summer, we decided to do a buddy read instead of only reading books from our individual shelves. Our plan is to read The Chronicles of Narnia together. I’ve actually never read the series, so I’m super excited to finally make the time for them. I also can’t wait to finally have a chance to discuss books with my daughter.

I’m actually writing the perfect book to have my daughter help me find inspiration for various parts of the story. It’s about a teenage boy who’s angry for various reasons, but mainly because his parents got divorced. He meets a girl one day when he climbs a tree, and she helps him see his situation from a different perspective. My daughter and I have already made plans to take walks/hikes this summer to look at trees and take pictures. There’s also a little girl in the story who loves sprites (fairies, pixies, and other mythical creatures). I’m hoping my daughter can help me research some facts about sprites and maybe even help me imagine how the little girl’s fairy garden would look. Finally, the grandfather in my novel owns a roller skating rink. Just this weekend my daughter attended a birthday party at the skating rink here in town. Had I not taken her, I never would have been inspired to add in the ‘dancing skater’ :) Looks like I need to take her a few more times over the summer. Maybe even put a pair of skates on my feet again. It’s been at least 20 years since I skated—hopefully it’s just like riding a bike!

I know I will need to do some actual writing this summer. My daughter’s computer sits right behind mine, and she is also working on a story. This means we can have a few hours a week dedicated to writing together. I also let her choose the music we listen to, so that’s an added bonus on her end. Of course, when we do this I don’t get much writing done since she is always sharing her Google Doc with me so I can see the five new sentences she added—but it’s still fun! And I love that she enjoys writing as much as I do.

I hate to admit that I slacked a bit on promotion last year. I know it’s an important aspect of my writing, but I had a lot of other things going on at the time and something had to give a bit. Regardless of my poor excuses (I’m a marketing gal after all, I should know better), I have vowed to start doing better again this year. I have this idea of doing some sort of photo puzzle promotion where I will take a zoomed in section of a picture that has something to do with my new book. I’ll then post that to social media and have people guess what it might be. I don’t plan to run it until I get a little farther along so I can build up interest near launch time, but it will take some time and effort to plan so I want to get started. My daughter can help me select (or take) the photos and then help me crop them for the promotion.

I’m hoping other ways to include my daughter in my writing life will pop up over the summer, but for now I have a plan I’m pretty excited about.

One of my guest blog posts for indieBRAG at the end of the summer is a recap of a 30-day photo project. I decided to make the photo project about how I incorporate all these elements into my time with my daughter this summer. I plan to post them on my Instagram account, so you can follow me there if you want to check in on our progress!

How do you all incorporate your writing into the other aspects of your life?



Kimberly G. Giarratano said...

I'm both embracing and dreading summer. I am so sick of the schedule. Get up. Hustle kids out the door for school. Gym. Write -- if I'm lucky. But then again, my kids will be home a lot. I have not figured out a good write/life balance. I don't know what I'm going to do honestly.

Brenda St John Brown said...

My summer writing also turns non-existent, but I have a book coming out in August, and a novella due August 15. So. The GOOD thing is that The Boy doesn't break up for summer vacation until July 8. The bad thing is I seem to enter summer vacation mode the day he's out of school. He's old enough to play outside and even wander to the local park and tennis court by himself, so I'm going to need to train myself to get some work in when he's otherwise occupied.

Carrie Beckort said...

I know what you mean. It will be nice to have the break from the constant 'push', but the lack of 'me time' over the summer is scary. I hope you figure out a plan! Good luck.

Carrie Beckort said...

Yes, I'm hoping there are lots of friends she wants to play with this summer. Although, I get very irritated with the, "We don't know what to do" comments. Here's to hoping we all get lots of writing done!

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