Monday, June 28, 2021

Avoiding the Summer Slump


Last month I was invited to speak at the Minnesota Christian Writers Guild, a great organization that holds monthly meetings in the Twin Cities to help writers along their writing journey.

I addressed the topic of Avoiding the Summer Slump, mostly because I needed to preach a little truth to myself. If you, too, need a bit of a pep talk, you've come to the right place.

So, how can a writer avoid that summer slump?

1. Set Goals:

  • Be realistic. You cannot possibly write 5 million words in one week. (Well, Ruthy can, but she's not human.)
  • Make goals quantifiable. Set goals specific enough that you can tell whether you've attained them or not.
  • Separate 'writing adjacent' things from actual writing. Writing adjacent things like research, marketing, emails, etc. take lots of time, but they won't add words to your work in progress.
2. Identify what Motivates You:

  • Remember why it is you write. Remind yourself...often if necessary
  • Set small victory rewards. Chocolate? A new coffee mug? Dinner out?
  • Identify what you want to have accomplished at the end of the summer when you look back. Keep it in the forefront of your mind during writing sessions.
  • Set a big victory reward. When you reach your big-picture goal, reward yourself with something cool. A vacation? A conference? A writing retreat? A laptop? Whatever. Save for it and work toward it.
3. Set your Strategies:

  • Are you going to get up earlier? Stay up later?
  • One weekend a month devoted to your writing?
  • Turn off social media or the tv?
  • Get your family involved.
                    a. Let them know how important this is to you.
                    b. Give them tangible ways to help. Dishes? Cooking? Quiet time?
                    c. Give them updates so they know how helpful they're being.

4. Get the Tools You Need to Stay on Track:

  • Planners. Write it down and make it happen.
  • Word count trackers can provide a visual of your progress
  • Accountability partners can help you stay on track.
  • A private FB group of likeminded people. (I belong to a group on FB called 1k1hr, which stands for One Thousand Words in One Hour. You don't have to write that fast, or you can go faster if you want, but the upshot is people check in, ask if anyone is around who is also writing, and a few folks join in. Encouragement that you're not alone, seeing the productivity of others, and a place to be held accountable. Bonus, you can make friends, too!)

There are only two more months before school starts and leaves start changing. What do you want to have accomplished by then? How are you going to get it done?

Best-selling, award-winning author Erica Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. She’s a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota, and she is married to her total opposite and soul mate! When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks. You can connect with her at her website, where you can read about her books and sign up for her newsletter, and you can find her online at where she spends way too much time!

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  1. Good morning, Erica. Can't believe I'm the first person to post. Summer is supposed to be my time to get more writing done since I am off my job of substitute teaching, but I also compete with getting projects done that I can only do best in the summer. But this summer I have finally gotten back onto the revision of the novel I wrote but have been stuck in neutral with revising. I am starting to move forward now. I still have my bookstore job so still need to juggle my time but I am making myself at least work an hour a day. Some days I will be able to do more. This book looks really good Erica. Sounds like my type of book. I will have to get it.

    1. The summer always passes too quickly! Don't you agree, Sandy?

    2. Sandy, congrats on getting stuck back into your revisions. It's always a tussle between working and being disciplined and relaxing and getting all those summer projects done, isn't it?

    3. Debby, I definitely agree summer passes too quickly. It always does for teachers.

  2. Erica, school in my area of GA starts AUG 2. The vaca is almost over before it's really least, that's how it seems to me.

    Great tips for being productive, especially over the summer. I just finished one story and am brainstorming the next in my contract. That's one of those "writing adjacent" chores you mentioned that can burn up a lot of time. My most productive time of the year is Jan-Feb, after Christmas. During the summer, I want to go to the pool and play with the grands! But as you mentioned, setting aside a specific time to write helps to keep me moving forward.

    Happy summer and happy writing to all!

    1. Ah, going to the pool sounds lovely for today...but alas, I have a wordcount to slay! :) I tend to be more productive when it's snowy and cold outside, but I don't want to squander these summer months either.

      Starting school on Aug 2 is just wrong! Here in MN school starts the day after Labor Day. :)

    2. Debby, August 2 is even early for our schools. We start Aug. 13 which is early enough. The best part about being a sub is deciding when I do want to work, but I will probably start in August myself.

  3. Summer is always a hard time to write! Between gardening, spending more time outside, hiking, family plans, etc. etc., the time just flies!

    For nine months out of the year, I can get up at 0'dark-thirty and get 1k written before the day starts. But in the summer 0'dark-thirty is around 4 AM. I'm an early riser, but not that early! I end up switching my writing time for dog-walking time (Sam the Border Collie works on sunrise time, not clock time,) and there goes my first writing hour of the day.

    The hard part is working it in later in the day. Even with a schedule (of sorts,) it's a struggle all summer long. BUT, I'm determined to make it work. I can usually get 1K done during the day, and that's what counts.

    But I do look forward to fall, when my schedule switches back, life isn't as hectic (hah!) and (most important!) Sam the BC and Jack the Corgi sleep past 5:30!

    And you made a great point about the 'writing adjacent' tasks, too. If you let them, they can be real time suckers, but I try to work them into the schedule.

    I have revisions coming up for the WIP I'm finishing this week, plus a lot of research and planning time for the next project. I'm working to get my WIP done in time to do those writing adjacent things during our ten day trip east to visit family in mid-July, The plan is to be ready to get some solid word counts in during a writer's retreat at the end of July.

    By the way, I'm loving The Debutante's Code! So excited for your new release!!!

    1. Sam and Jack need their own children's book. Adventures of Sam and Jack! Congrats on finishing up a WIP this week!

      So glad you're enjoying TDC!

    2. Jan, it's a seasonal anomaly, isn't it? As much as I love the busy-ness of summer, the early rising of critters makes a difference. And I'm with Erica, a Sam & Jack book! YES!

  4. This is a great post, Erica, and I love your practical steps. Our life has had so much upheaval this year that it's made me gun-shy about declaring a goal for my book's completion. Thanks for the reminder about the 1K1HR group. though I'm not in the fast draft phase, I think checking in over there would be helpful. The Debutante's Code sounds like a great book!

    1. Hi, Jeanne, often real life intrudes on our plans and goals, doesn't it? Maybe start small with a short-term attainable goal and build from that. And we'd love to see you over at the 1K1HR group! :)

  5. I love it when people take summers off... when they spend weeks getting ready for a conference and then go... because it gives me time to get an edge!

    Hi, I'm Ruthy and I'm a jerk when it comes to work ethic because I love writing... and I'm not big on lamentations. So when folks take off summer.... holidays/December.... conferences.... that's about one extra book I write/year because I am a turtle... but I never stop.

    Erica, I love this reminder because we all need it. If you slump, it's so much harder to bring yourself back up.

    So don't slump.

    Don't let me get a leg up!

    Shoot me down (fictionally, please) and let's do this together!

    1. You're the gold standard to which we all attain! Seriously, you are such an inspiration. Nobody works harder in this industry, and yet you still find time to 1) give back to up and coming writers, 2) plant and grow a gazillion things, including kids! and 3) manage to keep us all in line! :D

  6. Practical steps--I love those kind of tips! I'm always up for help with productivity and while I haven't been writing much so I don't often check in, I do check out who is writing in the 1HR1K group. It's great to see everyone spurring each other on. My goal this summer is just to get back into the habit of writing a little bit every day--or almost every day. Thanks for another great post!

    1. Hi, Glynis! You go, girl! Take it in baby steps!

  7. I'm beating the summer slump by bouncing between writing projects. I've only ever written one project at a time but I have two very different stories in my head and can't decide where to focus so I'm working on both. It's interesting and fun ( for now anyway).

    And I can't wait for your new series!!! Hmm.. maybe THAT will be my reward for summer writing goals....

    1. That can sure help keep the creativity going, can't it? Keeping two ideas moving forward.

      :) I hope you meet ALL your summer goals!

  8. Great advice, especially when I feel the strong call to sit in the air conditioning and nap!!!

    1. I never worry about you meeting your writing goals, Mary darlin'. I aspire to be like you, so faithful to get at least 1K a day every day....but I often fall far short of that!


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