Here’s an idea for your summer writing: schedule your time as writing retreats.
Summer time is different than teaching terms.
You have much more freedom about how you schedule your work. No classes. Many fewer meetings (if any). You have the luxury of giving some of your projects intense focus.
This is not “binge writing“. Binges are the kind of thing that make you sick. Binges involve doing something almost obsessively without stopping to look after yourself. Binges mean excess. Lack of control.
I’m proposing scheduling a period of intense focus on one and only one project with lots of attention paid to pacing and self-care. This is particularly well-suited to the research and writing tasks that involve a lot of deep thinking (and might involve doing that thinking while walking in the woods or along the beach).
What does a writing retreat look like?
You don’t have to go anywhere. You do want to have a space dedicated to writing. Somewhere that, when you cross the threshold, you feel like you are beginning the process. That might be your home office (suitably tidied up to remove distractions). That might be your cottage. You might book a few days at a hotel or bed and breakfast somewhere.
Block off 3 or 4 days in your calendar to work on one writing project. Clear a conducive space and make it inspiring for writing. Collect your materials. Stock the fridge with good healthy snack food. Have a plan for meals. Make sure you have things that can serve as paperweights in case you decide to work outside.
Have a practice to start your day, preferably one that gets you moving: dance party, yoga, a long walk, a run, a bit of gardening …
Write in time blocks no longer than 90 minutes, with breaks of at least 15 minutes between them. (If you do short 25 minute blocks, you can do 5 minute breaks but take a longer break every 90 minutes.) Get up and move away from your workspace for every break. Have a glass of water and a snack. Move your body even if it’s just to stretch.
When you feel restless go for a walk (or a swim if you are at the lake). Take your handheld device (if you have one) so you can record any brilliant thoughts that come to you. (Voice to text using Siri, Dragon Dictate, or similar is genius for this.) Electronic devices are not recommended for swimming ;-)
Change where you write/work if that helps. Sit in a comfy armchair. Move out to the deck. A change of scenery can unblock many a writing block.
Have a real lunch break. Good food. Some kind of movement activity. Perhaps a nap.
Don’t work longer than about 6 hours per day. After that you can do all the tasks that don’t require your best creative brain — email, making lists of what remains to be done, tidying your writing space to set yourself up for the next day, etc.
Finish your work day with another physical activity: a swim or a walk ?
Do something enjoyable in the evening. Eat a nice supper. Read a novel. Knit. Work on a jigsaw puzzle. Get a good night’s sleep. Start again in the morning.
A two-week book chapter by Pat Thomson is an illustration of what you might do specifically in this kind of intensive writing period.
Writing Retreats: Academic Indulgence or Scholarly Necessity by Yolande Strengers and Cecily Maller at The Research Whisperer
Edited March 22, 2017.