Write Like a Pro: How to Spend Summer Vacation

Mary AndonianMid-summer and your well-intentioned plans to launch a writing career have officially stalled. But it’s not because of a lack of talent or motivation; it’s because your kids are home on summer vacation.

What to do? First of all, we’re into July so you can kiss June goodbye and stop fretting over the “lost days.” Consider it a break before your next creative frenzy. The good news is that most publishers practically shut down during the summer months so you’re not alone in your pool time. The bad news is if you continue to slack, you’re at risk of losing any hard fought momentum you may have gained since spring.

Begin by organizing your workspace and materials. This is something you can do with the kids at your side. You can even pay them to be runners between your filing cabinet and the recycle bin. Kids love whiteboards. Have them help you make a project list on a whiteboard and then assign a “percentage complete” value next to each title. You’ll get a snapshot of where your writing is headed; they get a refresher in math that’s masked as “helping mommy.”

Do you like your neighbor and her children? Arrange a swap where you take all the kids one day, and then she takes them the next. When I was in a new moms’ group, we created laminated “Baby Bucks,” good for one hour of babysitting time apiece. We would use them like money and it created an equitable and efficient way of paying each other for services. I wrote many of my first essays this way.

Can you afford camp? Block out one week to send your kids and then make that time boot-camp week for your writing. I did this when I sent my girls to a local church summer preschool program. For one week I packed lunches for all of us and after dropping them off in their rooms, I retreated to another room in the church. At the end of the camp day, I walked over to their rooms and picked them up. I wrote the first forty pages of my first book that way. If you’re going to send your kids to camp, don’t use that time for running errands or cleaning house or even for the business side of writing. Just sit down and WRITE.

Summer is also a time of rejuvenation. Look back and see how far you’ve come at the calendar’s half-way point. Celebrate as a family any “win” you may have had, regardless of how small. I was elated when I found out I had taken “Honorable Mention” in Writers Digest’s annual writing competition. Then slather on the tanning lotion and keep at it.

Oh, and if you get a chance, go to a summer writer’s conference. I’ll be at the Willamette Writers this conference soaking up all the good advice and industry updates I can. If you’ll be in the Portland, Oregon-area, I hope to see you there.

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Mary Andonian is the agents and edtiors coordinator for the Willamette Writers Conference, one of the largest writers’ conferences in the United States. In past years, she was Co-chair and Program Coordinator. She just completed her second book, Bitsy’s Labyrinth. Contact Mary at maryandonianwwconference AT yahoo.com.

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4 Responses to “Write Like a Pro: How to Spend Summer Vacation”


  1. 1 anniegirl1138 July 26, 2008 at 7:02 am

    I tried the camp thing and it was a miserable failure. By Thursday they asked me to keep her home – she is too young they said – but the camp misled me a bit. They said they kept the older kids separate from the younger with different activities for grades 1 – 3 and 4 – 6. In actuality, they put all the kids together and did things geared to the older group the majority of the time.

    Camp is probably a great idea but do your homework. I won’t make this mistake again.

  2. 2 kmcdade July 26, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    This is just what I needed — thank you!

  3. 3 Mary August 2, 2008 at 10:34 am

    Thank you so much. I needed to hear this and to commiserate with other moms who are trying to move their writing career along but are stalled by summer. I’m feeling good about the things I AM doing toward reaching my goals!

  4. 4 The Writer Mama August 12, 2008 at 7:48 am

    Sounds like you really struck a chord, Mar.

    🙂 C


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