Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What’s on Your Summer Writing List?

Every school year, I amass an impressive pile of books for my own summer reading: novels, nonfiction, plays, professional books, journals, and magazines. Always more than I can realistically read in a single season, this collection represents the mythic promise of never-ending summer, abundant with time to relax and recharge.

As I look back on my annual ritual, I realize that I never plan the same way for writing. I typically neglect my personal and professional growth as a writer simply because I’ve never thought of giving myself the time and structure to focus on writing. There’s something about a list of future writing tasks that simply doesn’t hold the same appeal as that iconic stack of summer reading books.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to help me focus on myself as a writer this summer—just as much as I will as a reader. I’ll share a few of my ideas here, with the hope that you’ll contribute some of the ways you plan to keep writing on your list over the summer break.

  • Start a blog. The early days of summer provide the perfect time to go to Blogger or Wordpress, set up an account, and start writing. Last year, a colleague used her family’s summer vacation as the starting point for a blog, and now she updates it regularly with writing that is meaningful to her. It’s also not a bad idea to give yourself a few months practice if you’re thinking about having your students blog during the next school year.
  • Form a virtual writing group. Busy schedules and summer vacations don’t have to get in the way of sharing your writing with a group of fellow writers. Find a few friends or colleagues who are interested in supporting each other as writers. Set up a space in Google Docs where you can upload, store, and share writing. Even if you have a fully-functioning group that meets face to face, participating in an online environment can enrich and enhance the dynamics of sharing and responding.
  • Contribute a piece to the National Gallery of Writing. Whether you’d like to submit meaningful writing to the national-level gallery or to a local gallery (you can even start a gallery yourself), participating in the activities leading up to the National Day on Writing is a great way to reaffirm your commitment to writing as an important part of your identity.
I’ll consider this my first step toward a summer that doesn’t focus on reading at the expense of writing. Now let me start one of those books!


Heather said...

I like this post. I have never thought about a summer writing list, although I am always pining that I want to 'get back' to my own writing (I write a lot for others). I think I'll make that list!

Heather Widener

Mary Tedrow said...

I'll be writing along with colleagues in the Writing Project Summer Institute. That means already starting to think about personal writing that is important to me. Get thee to a writing project if you've been thinking what Heather has been thinking: "I want to get back to my own writing!"

Nan said...

While recently attending a convention, a professor there was talking about how her students use Google docs - they work collaboratively during lectures to take notes. She said it took her awhile to get used to everyone being online during her lecture but when she saw how productive they were and how smart their collective thinking could be, she actually started encouraging it.

Shirley D said...

I haven't forgotten my Writing Project Summer Institute days. I never wrote so well or so intensely in such a short period of time.

My Summer Writing List• This summer I plan to continue working on my fictional autobiography that I began years ago.
• I'm also refining my book about my teaching experiences.

Unknown said...

This is a timely reminder for me. I'm going to be laid-up following surgery this summer--a great time to pull-out the journal and word processor and get some things going!

Shannon McLean said...

I also really liked this blog. I hadn't thought of having a summer writing list. But I really love writing and would love to get back to doing it. It is something that I would need to actually set time aside to do. I too, look forward to my summer reading list and other projects, but I hadn't considered the benefit and satisfaction I would get from also making writing a priority this summer. I haven't tried a virtual writing group before but I have recently experimented with Google Docs and it could be a useful tool for a group to share and edit personal work.

Shannon McLean

Judy said...

What a great idea. I plan to share your posting with my Writing Institute Folks this summer.

I also recently started a blog just to get a feel for how it works before I use it with my students. Try it. You'll really like it.

Jim Burke said...

Join us on the English Companion Ning where English teachers of all backgrounds and levels of experience are blogging and writing about their work. http://www.englishcompanion.ning.com

Hope to see you there.

Jim Burke

Unknown said...

Enrolling in a summer camp for creative writing can be an excellent way to foster the talents of aspiring writers, young and old. Writing retreat