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10 Tips and strategies for keeping your writing on track this summer

typing on typewriter at the beachWe recently asked our members for advice on how to stay on track with writing projects during the summer months. Time and again, members said “set goals” and schedule “butt-in-chair” time. It was as though everyone kept screaming; “If you want it bad enough you’ll make the time for it!” And honestly, we agree. Isn’t it true that if you want “it” (to be published, to finish your dissertation, to complete x number of chapters for your textbook, etc.) bad enough, you’ll do whatever you have to in order to make it happen? However, even if you want it bad enough you still need strategies in place to be successful and reach your goals. So here you go, 10 tips and strategies for keeping your writing on track this summer:

  1. Set daily, weekly, and monthly goals, but be flexible. Having milestones to strive for will keep you on track and writing to reach them. Goals are necessary so you see the progress you are making and just as important, to keep you motivated along the way. The key to success this summer is not only setting goals, but also, being flexible and not becoming discouraged if you fail to meet a goal. Reassess along the way and redefine your goals if necessary.
  2. Go for a walk and carry a notebook. It is in these moments, out in nature not worrying about the words flowing, that the words actually do start to come. Be prepared to be inspired and have the words flow from your pen onto the page. Don’t forget your notebook!
  3. Get it down no matter what, then go back and edit later.
  4. Be protective of your writing time. The only way to really get your writing in is to protect your writing time and not let anything else get in the way.
  5. Find your happy place. You will be motivated and a more productive writer in a place that you are comfortable in or one with little distraction. Maybe it’s your home office, maybe it’s a coffee shop down the road, maybe it’s a park bench, wherever makes you happy, motivated, and focused is where you should be writing.
  6. Unplug. Turn off your phone; resist the urge to check your email, Twitter, Facebook, New York Times, and your favorite academic writer’s blog. When you sit down to write, focus solely on your writing. Once you meet your writing goal for the day, then you can check all of your favorite sites (see #8).
  7. Have an accountability partner. Find a friend, colleague, fellow coffee shop goer, whomever you can find, to check in with occasionally (weekly would be great!) and give a progress report on your writing successes and struggles.
  8. Reward yourself. Once you reach your writing goal for the day, let yourself relax and enjoy the day! If you make writing an unenjoyably task, you’ll be less likely to stick with it. The only key here is to only reward yourself when you truly deserve it. If you skipped your butt-in-chair time two days in a row, don’t buy that new computer you promised yourself if you reached your goal. You have to hold yourself accountable and reward yourself accordingly.
  9. Take a break! Sometimes you just need a break. Taking a break will help you recharge, become re-inspired, and return to your writing with a fresh perspective. Just don’t stay away for too long—a day or two is plenty.
  10. Visualize reaching your writing goals and how amazing that will feel. Visualization is a great tool. Picture how accomplished you’ll feel when you reach all of your writing goals come end of summer.

Happy summer writing!