It’s officially summertime, and that means it’s time to kick back, relax, and take a break from the routines we rely on to get us through those colder, grayer months.
When summer first arrives, it’s easy to be preoccupied with vacation planning and spending all of your free time enjoying the sunshine. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with becoming a regular at the pool, but what about exercising your mind and your writing practice?
It’s pretty unlikely that you’ll want to commit to a regular writing schedule during the carefree months of summer (and it might feel even a little bit punishing). While staying indoors is standard during the cooler “cozy season,” sitting down at your desk to churn out a short story is much more difficult when the sun is shining.
However, there are plenty of easy ways you can sidestep the summer writing slump and partake in fun writing exercises that will keep your mind sharp. Even if you’re in vacation mode, it’s still important to nourish your creativity so your writing can continually improve.
A good way to approach your writing habit is to think of it as “training”—just as you would train for a marathon, you need to use your writing skills regularly. Luckily, we’re here to share our top tips for developing a great writing routine this summer and some exercises to inspire your best work yet.
4 ways to avoid the summer writing slump
Teachers often fret that long summer vacations from school lead to a “summer slump,” where students forget some of what they learned over the previous school year.
Similarly, taking a vacation from your writing practice can be detrimental to your creativity and overall skills. The longer you disengage from words and language, the more you lose touch with your imaginative side. You might find it hard to even imagine wanting to work on new writing.
Rather than letting yourself get to the point where you question why you ever wrote at all, here are a few ways to keep yourself motivated:
Set a goal: It’s much easier to stay on track with any habit when you set goals that you check off daily or weekly. Whatever goal you decide on, make sure it’s realistic. Instead of writing 500 words every day, start with 250. If a daily word count causes you stress, set a goal of writing for 30 minutes every morning (or just a few times per week) before work.
Join a writing group: Sometimes, the accountability and encouragement that comes with writing among a group can be hugely beneficial. You’ll have deadlines, expectations, and people counting on you to share new work. Find a writing group online that fits with your summer plans and start socializing! You can even take a virtual class or workshop based on what you want to produce.
Collect inspiration: Now that you can spend more time outdoors, use your five senses and start paying attention to your environment. Whether it’s a cloud formation, the birds that love your front tree, or a line from an outdoor performance, you can find writing inspiration almost anywhere. Once you’ve collected a few images or moments that struck you, use descriptive writing to tie them together into a scene or stanza. Constantly thinking about things that inspire you will inherently keep your creative brain switched on, making writing come more easily.
Try something new!: There’s no need to be chained to a desk, especially when the weather is finally nice. Change up your writing routine by picking a new place to work, like a local park, lakeside setting, or an open-air cafe. If you’re finding it a chore to write, consider working on something completely different from your usual style. For instance, take some time off from fiction and write a restaurant review instead. (It may surprise you when you start imagining the backstories of each waiter or the eccentricities of the head chef—all stock for your next novel.)
Benefits of regular writing exercises
Making time for writing this summer isn’t just a creative exercise. In fact, there are a handful of scientifically proven psychological benefits to having a regular writing practice.
For one, writing can improve your mental wellness much like meditation. A study by Cambridge University Press revealed how writing for just twenty minutes a day can have a positive impact on your mental health. Practicing daily “expressive writing,” where you write openly and vividly about your feelings, led the study’s participants to log better mental health indexes than those without a steady habit. This is because writing about what’s causing trouble or anxiety in your life helps you to identify outside stressors and pinpoint what’s going on internally.
Another benefit of a daily writing practice is that it can spark greater self-awareness. Writing down even the simplest, most trivial facts about your day can imbue them with value. Returning to moments that might have seemed unimportant at first can reveal their true, underlying value. Exercising this level of awareness or self-awareness can be extremely useful in a creative practice.
10 writing exercises to keep your mind active this summer
It’s always wise to have a running list of prompts for those moments when writer’s block strikes. As you begin your summer writing, here are a few exercises to jump-start your creative flow:
Revamp an old story with a new point of view.
Write a story someone once told you (such as a grandparent, colleague, or friend).
Think of a person or figure that inspires you and use creative writing to shape a story from their perspective.
Try travel writing to make your vacation destination a part of the story.
Try a new genre, such as flash fiction, prose poetry, or playwriting.
Open a random book, choose an enticing sentence, and use that sentence to start off a new story or poem.
Pick someone you know well and write them a letter.
Think of your favorite movie and write yourself into the script, extending its narrative.
Write a story from the perspective of an inanimate object.
Return to something you’ve already written and rework it, setting it ten years into the future or the past.
Don’t let the warm weather dissuade you from practicing your passion for writing. By gathering inspiration, setting easy-to-reach goals, and dedicating yourself to writing regularly, you can avoid the summer slump and keep honing your creative skills.