Relaxing and Producing

12 May 2016 by Lisa Meloncon

Mentor Monday this week asked what it was that #womeninTC could help you with through the summer. The answer was overwhelming two things: writing accountability and reading/commenting on work. While we work on the logistics of that, I wanted to take the time to write about writing and planning for the summer. (And join a writing group if you’d like!)

As you probably have figured out, when it comes to this job, I plan. I like to lay things out with the associated tasks and figure out how to get it all accomplished. I guess this is a holdover from my years as a project manager. When there are large amounts of money on the line, a good plan can ensure no one is losing that money!

In any case, one of the major causes of summer disappointment and frustration and is making unreasonable plans. The idea that you may be able to focus on research and writing without the constant daily stresses of service or teaching can be a freeing feeling where we want to do all the things.

I don’t want to be a wet blanket, but you can’t do all the things in a summer, and it’s not a smart move to try and plan to do all the things. Instead, focusing on reasonable and realistic plans is your best bet for a rejuvenating and productive summer.

So here’s an example. I am doing two things. That is it. Now that aren’t small things, but if I get through them this summer, I will go into the fall feeling as though the summer was a success. And that is a great way to start a new academic year. I have all the tasks associated with them written down and the estimated times they should take. And then I put them into the calendar around other commitments like a scheduled vacation, a couple of short trips with friends, and some time I already have blocked off to finish putting a course on online. Reasonable. That’s the word that you need to keep in mind, and remember to add an extra third to the amount time you think a task will take 🙂

Other making good plans, I’ve blocked out big chunks of time to write. One of those things I need to get done is simply words on the page. Those words can’t miraculously appear on the page so you have to set yourself up to ensure that they do. This is where knowing your own writing process is helpful. I’ve always been pretty lucky that I can write words pretty much at any time because I’ve accepted the fact that all the words will have to edited. What this has done has allowed me not to worry so much about the words that I’m writing, and there’s a sense of writing freedom in that.

While my process is messy and takes a ton of editing, it has also worked for me. This means that on those days I just don’t feel like writing or I’ve written myself into a wall, I can still make forward progress by doing some of the editing that needs to happen. Usually, by the time I’ve edited some I can generally figure out how to move the problem area forward.

So as you start to think about your summer plans, I want to encourage you to plan and to get to know your writing process. These two things will help you have a productive working summer.

But more than that, remember that the summer is a key time to relax and not feel guilty about it and to find ways to renew yourself after a long academic year.

Wishing a productive and relaxing summer!