Why is the summer like NaNo? Because it's a time period jam pack full of no routine and chaos. I not only have munchkins running around, tugging on my shirt sleeves, asking for computer/tv/swimming, or breaking up fights before they rip each other's heads off - but I'm also the housekeeper and cook. During NaNo, my hubby is super supportive and tells me to write, write, write and he picks up a lot of the slack around the house. But in the summer, I don't have that luxary. It's all Mama. But still, it's about taking advantage of what little free time you have. So, here are some tips I've learned over the years.
My kids aren't allowed to have any TV or electronics (Wii, DS, etc) time until after lunch. Once the munchkins devour their PB&J's, they are off to the playroom and it's the quietest time of the day at my house. This is my writing time. I generally get 3-4 chapters done during the 4 hour time block before I need to start dinner. Have too much Mommy guilt to do that? Then pop in a 30 minute VeggieTales or even a full length Disney movie and take a shorter writing break. If it makes you feel better, here's what I do to not feel quite so much guilt about plopping my kids in front of the TV so I can write. I have my kids run 10 laps around our back yard before they have lunch. And they have to play outside in the morning for at least an hour. So I know they spent at least part of their day being active and getting all sweaty. My munchkins also know that if I can hit my writing goal by 4:30, there's an excellent chance we'll head off to the pool for a couple hours. That's a big incentive for them.
Pen & Paper
Grab a composition notebook and put it in your purse, backpack, car, etc. Of course, don't forget the accompanying pen or pencil, or else the notebook will mock you as it sits there, waiting to be filled while you watch your kids play in the pool or wait for them in your car. You can plot out quite a lot in just 15 minutes.
If life is sincerely too crazy to write at home, then plan a writers retreat. Ask another friend or two to share a hotel room for the weekend, then y'all can just write, write, write. Set a goal to have one per month for the duration of the summer.
Set Goals & Rewards
Figure out what you can write (or need to write), work out a schedule, then set goals that will motivate you to put down your book, walk away from the TV, or turn off the internet. I set goals that allow me to read a book or watch TV. My hubby takes my Nook with him to work each day and I only get it back if I hit my writing goal.And for me, summer is all about reading, reading, reading. So that's a huge incentive for moi. Then I set rewards for when I complete bigger chunks of my project, such as finishing 12 chapters. I gift myself $20 for each 12 chapters I complete. I may get a new dress or get pampered with a pedicure - but no matter what, that moolah is just for me. Goals keep me on track and rewards keep me motivated to put aside my fun stuff to actually work.
Please share what you do to keep on track during the summer months.
Danyelle Ferguson is a stay-at-home mom to four boisterous kids, trying to cram in writing & review deadlines between the never-ending laundry pile and constant calls for mom. She is the co-author of (dis)Abilities and the Gospel and a member of the Authors Incognito Executive Committee.