The semester is over! By now all the papers are done, the required reading lists are finished, and you no longer have to obligatorily travel to the south loop. You are free! This might feel great at first, but summer can be the hardest part of the program. With all this new found free time it can be easy to fall into bad habits, and opt for going to the beach instead of going to the page. Now more than ever it is important to hold yourself accountable. In my winter break blog, “Work From Home,” I talk about some of the things I’ve done to keep the work flowing. In this blog I will talk about some other tips, and I’ll include some advice I found from famed author Zadie Smith in her interview with The Guardian.
Advice from Me:
With three and half months to write make sure you set realistic goals. How much do you want to write each day? What chapters do you want to edit that day? Which story are you going to send out? Set these goals and stick to them.
Summers in Chicago are like no other! There are going to be so many things going on, but there are times when you are going to have to put in work, before you play. The great thing is that if you plan and stick to it, you can commit to the work and plan for the bigger events. Saying no is hard, but it will feel great when you finish a piece, or make it to that second workshop.
Get some folks together and workshop, workshop, workshop. A second pair of eyes will be super valuable. If they are in your cohort, awesome! If you applied to a retreat and got in: go for it, commit to it. Where ever you are seek out your fellow writers and keep each other accountable to your summer goals.
There are times when you need a break. Self-care is important. Having fun is important, but honing your craft should be a high priority. Say yes because you can, not because you don’t want to work.
9 Good Writing Habits from Zadie Smith
- When an adult, try to read your own work as a stranger would read it, or even better, as an enemy would.
- Don’t romanticise your “vocation.” You can either write good sentences or you can’t. There is no “writer’s lifestyle.” All that matters is what you leave on the page.
- Avoid your weaknesses. But do this without telling yourself that the things you can’t do aren’t worth doing. Don’t mask self-doubt with contempt.
- Leave a decent space of time between writing something and editing it.
- Avoid cliques, gangs, groups. The presence of a crowd won’t make your writing any better than it is.
- Work on a computer that is disconnected from the Internet.
- Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you.
- Don’t confuse honours with achievement.
- Tell the truth through whichever veil comes to hand—but tell it. Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never being satisfied.