You probably think of summer as the easiest time of year to focus on research and writing. You’ve probably been looking forward to it for months because of that. So why would you want to join the Studio?
Some people who attend A Meeting With Your Writing regularly during the main part of the year, find they don’t need this kind of support in the summer. If you have a good summer writing routine, are also able to take a proper vacation *and* work in a restful way so that you are much less tired by the time the new academic year starts, keep doing what you are doing! We’ll still be here in the autumn to help you keep up your writing practice.
However, I’ve also noticed that some members only come in summer or during sabbatical and drop back attendance when they are teaching. This suggests that the Studio resources might be particularly important in these less busy periods.
Structure can sometimes seem limiting. Certainly the structure provided by teaching and other regular commitments limits the amount of time and attention you can give to your research in ways that are not always helpful.
And yet, when faced with a period with practically no external structure at all, you might feel unmoored. It’s not uncommon to fritter away a good chunk of your day because there is no urgency to get started. This is why finding structure that works for you is so important.
The Studio provides you with a way to structure your week, while still leaving you lots of flexibility.
Attending A Meeting With Your Writing on Monday makes sure you get started. You can enjoy your summer weekends with family and friends (or lying around enjoying the good weather and a good book) and know that you have a nudge to get back into your research on Monday. Once you’ve started, it’s much easier to keep going. And there is another Meeting With Your Writing on Thursday if you need a bit of a boost later in the week.
Knowing you have the group and the structure of synchronous meetings also helps you take time off over the summer: weekends but also proper holidays. Your gremlins can be very persuasive about the dangers of going away on holiday without your laptop or any of the reading you need to do for your projects or teaching. They are very worried that if you really took time completely off to relax, play, read things that have nothing to do with your work, and generally enjoy yourself, that you’d never go back to work again.
The Studio helps you make that transition back after your holiday which makes it that little bit easier to really let go.
Making realistic plans.
The Studio isn’t just about getting writing done. The logo is a juggler because a big part of the Studio is supporting you in making more realistic plans. If you’ve not been able to maintain a writing practice during the main part of the academic year, it can be really hard not to overplan your summer. Like the apocryphal traveller in the desert spotting an oasis, you are so thirsty for writing and thinking time, you just want to do all the things.
I offer quarterly planning classes in the Studio to help you look at what’s coming up over a 3 month period and figure out how you can realistically fit writing in, what kind of writing you could focus on, and so on. In 2021 I added an annual planning class, premised on the idea that your academic writing year starts in midsummer, to help you see your summer writing in relation to the writing you can do in the rest of the year. I also offer other classes and group coaching to help you figure out what to do when stuff comes up, you get stuck, or your plans go off the rails. Because they will.
The structure of A Meeting With Your Writing also helps you get better at planning your writing projects. I prompt you to take notes at the end of every session. You will develop a better sense of what you can do in 90 minutes and how much that varies. You will learn more about what affects your focus and what strategies help you optimize your focus so you can make good use of the time you have.
Summer is a good time to establish new habits.
A sustainable writing practice takes a while to establish. One good reason to join the Studio in the summer is because you have more capacity to work on establishing new habits. You are juggling fewer balls in the summer. There are fewer things to derail new practices and more opportunities to pick yourself up and get back on track.
You also have more time to breathe. You have time and cognitive capacity to reflect on how things are going and make decisions to tweak things.
Joining the Studio in the summer can allow you to establish a habit of attending one Meeting With Your Writing a week, that you then want to continue when teaching starts again.
This post was originally written in 2016, however as the Studio has evolved, we have substantially edited and updated this text. We republished this in July 2o21 to reflect the new Studio structure, with more contemporary posts and references.