Yesterday marked the last day of my fifteenth year as a middle school teacher. It was easily the strangest year ever, but it’s over now. And while I don’t know what the fall is going to look like (let’s be honest with ourselves here — no one does), I know that I get the next few months with significantly less school work to do and a lot more time to focus on my kids and having fun.
And focus on writing.
During the quarantimes (I don’t care if that’s not really a word… it is now!), I have not done nearly enough writing. I’ve been querying (to no success, but that happens), but the actual writing hasn’t really happened. Maybe in the last three months I’ve written 3,000 words. However much it’s been, it’s not enough. I have plenty of excuses, but no good reasons. Sure, it’s been an emotionally rough time. And yes, I’ve been focused on my own job. And yes, I’ve been making sure that my kids are getting their work done. And by the end of the day I’m just too exhausted to string together words. And yes, I haven’t been able to find a good space or time to work (I’m starting to feel like Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof” with all of his hands).
But the reality of the situation is, I just need to make the time to write and do it. I remember I had an English teacher years ago (probably in middle school), who had us do “free writing” at the beginning of class and when I complained once about not being able to think of anything to write, she told me to “Just write ‘I don’t know what to write’ over and over again until you think of something.” Being an obnoxious middle schooler, I did it to show her that it wouldn’t work, but of course, it did.
So in that same spirit, I’m launching my new personal initiative to #startsummerwrite.* Every weekday, I’m going to spend about an hour writing. During the last few months, I was holding office hours for our school from 10-11 each day and my wife blocked that time off on her calendar. So, I’m going to keep that time during the summer as my writing time. And every now and then I’ll report out about it here, and on Twitter, to hold myself accountable.
Just to be clear, when I say write, I mean WRITE. Not query. Not edit. Not stall on my phone (my phone is on the other side of the room right now so I’m not even tempted — laziness definitely overrules distraction in my case). I’m going to write every day. Maybe I’ll work on my WIP. Maybe I’ll write more blog posts like this. Maybe I’ll write a review for a book on my library’s website or a letter to the editor or something totally different. No matter what, I’m going to be writing during this time.
I’ll still find and make time to do the other things. But from 10-11(ish) each weekday, I’m going to be writing. I like to write. It’s enjoyable to sit down and craft with my words. Even if what I write ends up being crap, I still enjoy the process.
Please feel free to join me if you’d like. Writing with a group can be fun. I’m going to count my words but not set a particular daily goal or anything. And even if I spend a few days just writing “I don’t know what to write,” so be it. No matter what, I’m going to #startsummerwrite.
Thanks for reading!
*I know this is a terrible pun, but in the last few months I’ve been posting a “Bad Dad Joke of the Day” outside of my house for the neighborhood to see, so terrible puns are kind of becoming my brand.