This morning it feels like fall has already arrived. While we have a few more days of summer vacation left before the routine of school and sports and kids’ activities officially begins, we can all feel it in the air. I’ll be sad to see summer fade, but it was a good one. We filled our days with barbecues, family, friends, swimming, and amusement parks, and our nights with fires, s’mores, concerts, and more than a few bottles of good wine. Yes, we all worked. It was Comic Con season for me, and those can be exhausting, but still, the different rhythm of summer provides a needed change, a break from the routine.
Now, along with the crisp days of autumn, I look forward to my most productive writing season. Over the course of my professional life, I’ve learned that I work best when I honor my personal rhythms. When I recognize that there is a natural time when I am most creative and a time when I need to slow down, I feel more balanced and ultimately, in the long run, more productive.
Here’s a section from a post I wrote a while ago titled Inside a Writer’s Mind: On Working with a Calendar. The focus of the article was about taking control of our time, but this particular section focused on honoring our natural rhythms. As we head into fall, which for many of us means an uptick in activity and overall busyness, I think it’s worth sharing.
Structure Your Work Life to Honor Your Personal Rhythms
Step one is recognizing you have a rhythm. A friend of mine, who works a full-time job in a different field, writes during his train commute to and from work. He plugs in the ear buds and hits an impressive daily word count. Another friend works late into the evening, when the house is quiet and everyone else is asleep.
Writing, in one capacity or another, is my full-time job now, and I’m learning a great deal about rhythm. For example, I’m productive with task-oriented items like scheduling social media in the morning, but I couldn’t solve a plot tangle before noon to save my life. Likewise, I have to keep things simple on Fridays because I’m pretty worn out, but I can often get some solid creative writing in over the weekend.
When I’m drafting a novel, I need several uninterrupted hours for my creativity to flow and to hit my daily word count. It’s tricky for me to work one hour without interruption never mind four, but I know this is what I need to do. Draft weeks wind up with a unique rhythm, and I’m often hiding at Starbucks to make it work!
I’m also noticing a rhythm to the year. Summers are busy with cons and conferences, so I can’t plan to draft a novel, but I can write blog posts and short stories. In the fall, when everyone is back to school and out of the house, I’m ready to find those uninterrupted hours and renew my affection for chai lattes.
There’s no right way to schedule your time, only the way that works best for you. When I respect my natural rhythms and organize my work life around them, I find I’m much more productive, and certainly much happier.
Here’s a link to the whole article: Inside a Writer’s Mind. Even though I wrote it with other creative types in mind, the tips come from my work as a teacher, school administrator, mom, and eventually, writer. I hope they’re helpful. Enjoy these last few days of summer!