Thursday, May 31, 2018

How to Restart Your Writing Practice: A Few Ground Rules

Are you looking for a reset after a long year of teaching? Are you struggling to get back into your writing for the summer?

Many academics are mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted at the end of the academic year. So, the first step is to intentionally take some days off. At a minimum, take the weekend off. And, make sure you have some summer vacation planned, as you will need a real break. I plan a two-week vacation with absolutely no work every year. This year, after my writing retreat, I will spend that vacation in Peru! I hope you are also planning a vacation for yourself this summer.


Once you are ready to get back to work, one strategy that might work for you is to set some ground rules for yourself to get back into your writing practice. I set ground rules for myself and adjust them according to the season. I find they are helpful to keep me on track with my writing.

Here are some examples of ground rules for getting your writing done:


  1. No social media before noon on writing days.
  2. Don�t check email until writing is complete.
  3. Complete two hours of writing before doing any other work or household tasks.
  4. Take the weekend completely off.
  5. Get some exercise 3 days a week.
  6. Spend at least one afternoon a week enjoying nature.
  7. Read fiction at least 30 minutes a day.

You may notice that only one of these sample ground rules is actually about writing. The first two are about what not to do before you write and the last four are about self-care. That is because, in order to ensure you write every day, you also need to take steps to avoid distraction as well as take time to refresh. And, summer is a great time to get back into fiction reading. (I am currently reading The Ministry of Utmost Happiness - what's on your list?)

What do you think would be good ground rules for you? What do you need to do to keep up your writing practice this summer?

If you want to be a super-nerd about this, you can do what I do, which is to create an Excel spreadsheet with your ground rules and give yourself a gold star for each week that you meet all of them.

Also, keep in mind that it is perfectly fine - even recommended - to change your pace of work during the summer. I talk a bit more about "summer hours" in this post.

I wish you a productive and relaxing summer � at least for those of you in parts of the world where it is summertime!

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