Shifting into Summer Writing — Where Will You Write? And What about the Kids?
May 30, 2012 by Nancy Whichard
Like Christmas/New Year’s/Spring Break, summer makes all things seem possible, especially if your goal is to produce as much text as you can on your dissertation or other writing projects.
For many of my clients who live in the Northern Hemisphere, this is the time of year when they are shifting into summer schedule with a plan to focus on writing.
Perhaps you, too, are almost into summer mode with a plan to write. If so, will you have the company of your kids? And what about the kids? How do they fit with your writing plans?
Writing, with Kids
If you have most of the responsibility for their care, you have probably long been aware that the demands of childcare make successful completion of your degree more difficult, and perhaps less likely.
To quote one of my clients, “I know now that I can’t write my dissertation at the dining room table.”
I’ve maintained that if you want to get any writing done, you need a door between you and your kids.
Do You Need More than a Door?
A client told me that even though she had an in-home babysitter for her daughter last summer, the 10-year-old still found any excuse to interrupt her mother’s writing. As for this summer, my client says, “I need more than a door.”
And so I’m hearing from her, and from many clients, plans for day camp and away-camp for kids.
Camp Isn’t Just for Kids
Should you think about camp, too … for yourself? A place where you would have control over your time and fewer distractions? Where it would be quiet and you could write?
Day camp for you could be a library or coffee shop.
Or you could rent writing space for the summer. Renting a space would be perfect. And, yes, I have had dissertation clients who rent writing space.
Professional writers rent space.
Novelist J. Courtney Sullivan rents space at the Brooklyn Writers Space. She says that it is “almost like library carrels — you don’t have a set desk, you sit wherever there’s an opening and it’s incredibly quiet. It’s totally silent.” Sounds great doesn’t it? No interruptions from little ones, no unexpected phone calls. In fact, Sullivan says that the writers space is so quiet that “you would not want to be the person whose phone starts ringing.” Or if you want a week away to a quiet place in order to get a good start on your writing, consider renting a cabin with writer friends. Your time would be your own. No kids, no spouses.
Something I haven’t done but I think would be a terrific idea is to house-sit for someone. Again, no kids, no spouses (I’m assuming the kids have grandparents or other relatives who can help out with the childcare if your spouse isn’t up to it). If your only obligation is to water the plants and feed the cat, you will have a perfect opportunity to ease into your writing and produce text.
One last description of a writer’s retreat may sound as if it couldn’t be based on reality, but I swear that it is. A client is working toward her PhD at a major research university, and she has the great good fortune to have a professor who loans her vacation lake house to a graduate student for a 2- or 3-day writer’s retreat. As long as the professor isn’t using it, she’s happy for a graduate student to have access to it. At no cost.
My client has used the professor’s house several times. As you might expect, during her retreat she has not only made headway on her work, but she has also usually unraveled a particularly thorny writing problem.
The Writer’s-Retreat State of Mind
More than once my client and I have discussed how she can hold onto her writer’s-retreat state-of-mind after returning home. One of her successful strategies for re-creating that state-of-mind has been to go to a quiet library.
What can you do now to better ensure that this summer will be a great season of writing for you? What will you do about your writing environment? And what about the kids? I would love to hear your plans for a successful shift into summer writing.
Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach
nancy @ nancywhichard.com
Image by …anna christina… via Flickr