10 Things every writer should do this summer

So I know I’m being something of a bossy pants in telling you what to do with your summer. Hey, I get it. You’ve got your own plans. You don’t need some listicle of a blog post telling you how to make the most of the next few months, even if my ideas really are super awesome. Suit yourself then and just scroll past points one to nine and head straight to 10. 

1. Crack open your summer reads

The first order of business? Choose your companions. But choose them wisely, choose them well. No idea what to read? You can borrow this list, but it’s probably better if you create your own. Just be sure to include at least one beach read, even if you’re not technically going to the beach. 

2. Go to the beach!

Unless you hate the beach. Then don’t. But do something else then that makes you feel illuminated and buoyant, full of texture and magic. Something that touches on your senses profoundly and stirs in you a feeling of utter enchantment. For me that’s the beach—birthplace of my first poem not coincidentally.

3. Hit-up garage sales for cheap but good books

I can’t be the only writer that does this? Up here in my neck of the woods, there’s nowhere cheaper to buy goodies for my home library. And living in Canada, garage sales are pretty much a summertime only thing. So if you’re in the same boat, go out and get ‘em while the gettin’s good.

4. Do a DIY writer’s retreat

If you’re doing an actual writer’s retreat like one of these then please enjoy. Maybe Instagram it so the rest of us can catch some of the afterglow. Everyone else, feel free to do what I’m doing and create your own. Though I considered staying at a hotel with decent room service and free Wi-Fi, I ultimately went for the economy package: a long-weekend at home alone while my daughter stays at Grandma’s house. As a single parent, an uninterrupted few days is beyond amazing. It may not be Banff but ultimately if the writing’s good, then who needs the Rockies anyway. 

5. Practice the fine art of the siesta

Is there anything more sublime than the siesta? Lolling about on a warm afternoon, toes dangling over the edge of a mattress stripped to just its sheets? Or suspended in a hammock or cocooned on a couch? Of course this practice is particularly fabulous for us early a.m. scribblers, but nearly every writer I know could benefit from an extra little doze here and there. 

6. Support the arts

I don’t know about you, but I find the work of other creators inspiring and uplifting and even influential. And yet I haven’t been to a show or a gallery or bought a new album in forever. And I don’t even remember the last time I went to a reading. So this summer, I’d like to do each of these things at least once. And I invite you to vamp up your own patronage of the arts, in whatever ways best ignite your creativity. 

7. Pitch magazines your fall and winter article ideas

Many print publications are three or more months ahead in terms of what they’re working on. So even though we’re still in June, it’s quite likely editors have already made some decisions about what content they’ll publish in September. This can be really helpful when trying to determine what kind of ideas might get grabbed up by a particular magazine. Your fall-themed pitch is far more likely to be considered than one that’s out of season.

8. Get ready to submit literary work for the fall

If you’re a poet, essayist, or fiction writer, you may wish to spend some time this summer polishing up your best pieces. Many literary magazines start accepting submissions in the fall and if you want to enter contests, the majority of those also have deadlines in mid to late autumn.

9. Add a splash of fun into your writing routine

Remember when you were a kid and school would let out for the summer, what a relief it was to not have any homework? Well, being a writer isn’t like that. The vast majority of us keep at it year-round. Still, that doesn’t mean we can’t inject a little summertime fun into the regular routine.

Personally, during the summer months I prefer to give myself over to projects that are geared around my own whims rather than pay. This summer, the only new work I’ll be taking on will be directly related to my novel in progress. So, yay! Summer!

10. Write your own summer to do list

The blog post you’re reading here is adapted straight from my own personal to do list. Though I think my ideas are quite good, it’s still probably best if you create your own.

You can start by asking yourself what you want to accomplish in the long run and then consider actions you could take to make those things happen. Choose some of the most important-to-you ones and then prioritize them. Set goals. Schedule tasks. But don’t forget to also do things that uplift you and make you feel happy to be alive. As writers, we need to both keep pushing the nib forward and finding inspiration in the world around us. Happy summer, everyone.

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